Title 26 Guardian ad Litem

motherson2A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the court when two divorcing parties cannot agree on a parenting plan. The GAL is a neutral party who will investigate all aspects of the case, including interviewing parents, children, and those parties involved with the children, such as grandparents and teachers.  Relevant documents (such as school records, substance use assessments, etc.) are all reviewed. A GAL with a mental health background is especially helpful when there are any sensitive issues within a divorce case. Some examples of these might be concerns regarding parenting skills, domestic violence, substance abuse, behavioral concerns with children, educational or developmental issues, or any mental health concerns. Mental health practitioners are trained to be sensitive and fair when working with families. Upon completion of the investigation, the GAL writes a report with recommendations to the court for a parenting plan in the best interest of the children.

Parenting Coordinator

Many different services may fall under this category. One of the most common activities a parenting coordinator does is to help parents solve disagreements after a parenting plan has already been enacted. Instead of going back to court each time a dispute arises, a coordinator can help the parties come to agreement on many different parenting or scheduling issues and this could be achieved in person together or separately. A parenting coordinator can also act as a third party copied on emails assisting with parenting communication. Another role a parenting coordinator may play is to help divorcing parents come up with plans in the best interest of their children pre-divorce. This is not in lieu of legal services, but can be an extremely helpful (and less expensive) piece of the process. A parenting coordinator may also be involved during the actual process of divorce- particularly when issues come up with the children, as they often do. In this role, we serve as parenting coaches in helping the parents come up with the best ways to help the child through the struggles they may be facing. Parenting coordinators are also used when problems arise between parent and child after the divorce. We can help facilitate communication and lead the way to more peaceful relationships.

“Be of good courage all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost… In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.” – Rainer Maria Rilke