It is necessary for the Missouri Court to appoint a guardian ad litem, in some Missouri family court cases. To represent the best interests of the child involved in the domestic matter, a guardian ad litem ("GAL") will be appointed. A GAL is typically an attorney and can be appointed in divorce, paternity, and custody modificaition cases. In any case where abuse or neglect is alleged by either parent, a GAL must be appointed, or when it is a child order of protection case. But a GAL can also be requested by either party to assist the furthering of the child’s best interest in the case. Missouri Statute Sec. 452.375 determines the best interest of the child.
Representing the child’s best interests in a Missouri family court matter is the GAL’s determination of a custody plan. The plan prescribes a physical custody plan for when each parent shall have custody of the child. It also sets a legal custody arrangement, i.e. which parent(s) have the right to make important decisions, including but not limited to; medical, religious upbringing, and educaion regarding the child.
The GAL will speak with both of the parents as well as the child, if the child is of appropriate age, in order to determine the best interest of the child. The GAL may also contact other family members, friends, doctors, teachers, police officers, daycare providers, counselors, and others to attain additional information about the child, parties, and their family dynamic. Upon gathering the testimony of the prior mentioned people, along with usually attaining counseling, school, and/or doctor records on the child, the GAL will then formulate their custody recommendation for the child. It is likely for the Missouri Court to follow the GAL’s recommendation as to what the custody arrangement should be in that family court case, but occasionally the parents will not agree to the recommendation and will continue on with a trial to try and persuade the Judge to order a different custody plan.
It is of utmost importance for parents and children both, who have a GAL appointed to them in their Missouri family court case to recognize the important role that the GAL has in the final custody determination. It is imperitive that the parties keep the GAL abreast of the ongoings of their case and feel comfortable reaching out to the GAL to offer any additional information and/or to request help with any and all difficult situations that may arise.
Call our office now for your free consultation with our family law attorneys, 816-524-0404 Altieri Gilmore L.L.P.
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