4 People to Know in IL Parental Responsibilities Cases

Illinois parental responsibilities cases can involve many professionals. The people listed below get tapped when cases are especially complicated or adversarial.

Some of the roles have overlapping responsibilities, such as making recommendations to the court. Who comes onto your case will depend on your judge's preferences and the availability of the professionals.

A parent can request that one of these professionals be appointed or the court can appoint one without a parent's request. The judge decides how parents split the professional's fees, unless parents reach their own agreement.

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Guardian ad litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) investigates your family, then submits a report to the court that can be used in trial.

GALs are family lawyers who act as witnesses for the court. They aren't limited by attorney–client privilege because they don't represent anyone.

To begin their investigation, the guardian ad litem interviews each parent and child. They may also conduct home studies. They often speak with others who know the family, including relatives, friends, teachers and psychologists.

At the end of the investigation, the GAL submits a recommendation for parental responsibilities and parenting time to the court, along with details on what they observed. They can then be questioned during trial and may question witnesses of their own.

Child's representative

A child's representative is a family law attorney who provides a judge with guidance on what would be best for a child.

The representative conducts an investigation, which includes interviews with both parents and the child. Conversations between the child and the representative remain confidential, protected by attorney–client privilege.

Prior to trial, the representative provides the court with information and legal arguments, which often prompts parents to settle.

A child's representative cannot be questioned during trial, and their research cannot serve as evidence.

Because the representative takes the child's wishes into account, they're usually only assigned when the child is old enough to express logical opinions.

Attorney for the child

An attorney for the child acts as a lawyer for your child more or less as they would for an adult.

The attorney represents the child by filing paperwork, gathering evidence, questioning witnesses and making arguments during trial. They do not conduct an investigation or make a recommendation to the court.

A child assigned an attorney should be old enough to communicate independently. Attorney–client privilege ensures that conversations between the two remain confidential.

Custody evaluator

This person conducts custody evaluations. They interview and evaluate both parents and the child, then submit a report to the judge with a recommendation on how to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Evaluators often serve as witnesses in court, answering questions about their report.

Concerns about issues like domestic violence, questionable parenting or a child's special needs often prompt an evaluation.

A judge will choose your custody evaluator — usually a mental health professional — unless you and the other parent decide on one together.

Professional technology that's available to parents too

The professionals working on your case have many tools on hand. One of them is available to parents, too: Custody X Change.

With a parenting plan template, customizable parenting time calendars, a digital journal and beyond, the Custody X Change app makes sure you're prepared for whatever arises in your journey to parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Take advantage of the technology the professionals use, and get what's best for your child.

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