Guardian ad Litem’s Role in Divorce: What Do They Do? Unveiled

A Guardian ad Litem is typically appointed in a divorce case when there are disputes regarding child custody, visitation, or other matters affecting the child’s well-being. 

Tim’s Legal Tip: The court will always appoint a GAL in situations involving allegations of abuse, neglect, or substance abuse that could impact the child’s safety.

This article will discuss the role and importance of a GAL in a divorce or custody battle. 

What Does a Guardian ad Litem Do in a Divorce?

The role of a guardian ad litem in a divorce is multifaceted and crucial. Let’s explore the primary responsibilities and tasks undertaken by a guardian ad litem during the divorce process:

1. Investigating and Assessing

One of the core duties of a guardian ad litem is to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the divorce and the impact on the children involved. 

They evaluate the living situations, interview family members, consult professionals, and gather pertinent information to present an objective report to the court.

The GAL’s objective is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the child’s situation.

2. Advocacy for the Children

A guardian ad litem serves as the voice of the children during the divorce proceedings. They represent the children’s interests and preferences, ensuring the court hears and considers their opinions. 

By advocating for the children, a guardian ad litem strives to promote their overall well-being and safety.

3. Child Welfare Assessment

Assessing the welfare of the children is a critical aspect of a guardian ad litem’s role. They evaluate various factors, such as the children’s emotional, physical, and educational needs, and recommend custody, visitation, and other relevant matters to the court.

4. Mediation and Conflict Resolution

In some cases, a guardian ad litem may be involved in mediation sessions between the divorcing parties, aiming to find common ground and resolve disputes. 

They work to foster effective communication and cooperation, promoting a healthy environment for the children amidst the divorce process.

5. Court Representation

A guardian ad litem appears in court on behalf of the children, presenting the findings of their investigation and advocating for the children’s best interests. 

They provide objective and expert recommendations, assisting the court in making informed decisions that prioritize the well-being of the children.

6. Report Submission

After conducting thorough investigations and assessments, a guardian ad litem prepares a comprehensive report that outlines their findings and recommendations. 

This report is submitted to the court, enabling the judge to make decisions regarding custody, visitation, and other aspects related to the children’s welfare.

Tim’s Legal Tip:  The GAL’s recommendations serve as valuable input for the court when making decisions affecting the child’s future. In my experience, judges rely heavily on the GAL’s recommendations and follow them when making custody decisions. 

Working with the Guardian ad Litem

During a divorce case, it is essential for all parties involved, including the parents, to cooperate and communicate effectively with the Guardian ad Litem. Collaboration allows the GAL to gather accurate information and comprehensively assess the children’s needs.

Cooperation and Communication

Parents should be cooperative and transparent with the GAL throughout the process. This involves providing requested information, responding to inquiries, and attending meetings or interviews when required. 

Open and respectful communication helps build a productive working relationship between the parents and the GAL.

Sharing Relevant Information

Both parents should share any relevant information with the Guardian ad Litem. This includes details about the child’s routine, medical history, educational background, and any concerns or issues that may impact the child’s well-being. 

By sharing information, the parents contribute to the GAL’s ability to make informed recommendations to the court.

Attending Interviews and Meetings

The Guardian ad Litem will interview the child, parents, and others involved in the child’s life. 

The parents must ensure their availability and willingness to participate in these interviews. Attending meetings or hearings related to the case is crucial to demonstrate active engagement and commitment to the child’s best interests.

Definition of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

Guardian ad Litem, commonly called a GAL, is an individual appointed by the court to represent the child’s best interests in legal proceedings. 

The term “ad litem” means “for the lawsuit” in Latin, signifying that the Guardian ad Litem is appointed explicitly for the divorce case. 

The GAL is not a legal guardian in the traditional sense but acts as the child’s advocate throughout the divorce process.


Q. Why is a guardian ad litem necessary in a divorce? 

A guardian ad litem is necessary to protect the children’s best interests in a divorce. They provide an unbiased perspective and advocate for the children’s needs, promoting their overall welfare throughout the divorce proceedings.

Q. Who appoints a guardian ad litem in a divorce? 

In most cases, the court appoints a guardian ad litem. The judge considers various factors, such as the complexity of the case, the age of the children, and the potential impact on their well-being, before making the appointment.

Q. Can a guardian ad litem make decisions regarding custody and visitation? 

No, a guardian ad litem does not have the authority to make final decisions regarding custody and visitation. However, they play a crucial role in providing the court with unbiased recommendations based on their assessments and investigations, which heavily influence the court’s decision-making process.

Q. What qualifications does a guardian ad litem possess? 

The qualifications of a guardian ad litem may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they typically possess a background in law, social work, psychology, or a related field. 

They undergo specific training to understand the legal and ethical responsibilities associated with their role.


A guardian ad litem is vital in ensuring children’s well-being and best interests during a divorce. They conduct thorough investigations, advocate for the children’s needs, and provide objective recommendations to the court. 

Understanding the role of a guardian ad litem is crucial for divorcing parents, as it helps create a more child-centered and empathetic approach to the divorce process.

What To Read Next


Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

Recent Posts