In Georgia, Guardians Ad Litem (GALs) are generally attorneys who are appointed by the judge presiding over a domestic relations matter concerning child custody to aid the judge in determining what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child or children involved in the matter. See Uniform Superior Court Rule 24.9(3). GALs are most often appointed by presiding judges in matters where there is serious disagreement between the parties regarding which parent would be the most appropriate primary caretaker or in situations where one party makes serious allegations of abuse or about the ability of the other parent to properly care for the child or children. Although GALs are generally appointed at the discretion of the presiding judge, parents may request that the court appoint a GAL by submitting a motion requesting such an appointment. In such a case, the parent would have to provide the court with the basis for the request.
If you’re a parent going through a divorce with children or a child custody matter in Georgia, and you feel as if the court has not been made aware of all the necessary to come to the best decision concerning the custody of your child or children, requesting that a GAL be appointed in your matter may help. If appointed, a GAL will investigate all aspects of the custody matter by reviewing relevant court documents and records concerning the child, interviewing the child or children involved directly among other things. This can be helpful as the GAL is able to speak with the child first hand and experience the circumstances of the case in a way that the presiding judge is unable to. Once the GAL has conducted a satisfactory investigation, he or she will present their findings to the court along with a recommendation concerning the appropriate custody arrangement. Although the appointment of a GAL may be beneficial in some matters, if you are considering requesting the appointment of a GAL in your matter please note that a GAL investigation may be extremely invasive and may prolong the duration of your case.