In most states, an attorney is appointed to represent the children in a divorce or custody case. This person is called the law guardian, or guardian ad litem. Having an attorney appointed to represent your kids can feel strange and a bit scary.
Purpose of the Law Guardian
You and your ex both have rights and a point of view that are represented to the court by your attorneys. Custody cases are decided based on what's best for the kids, but kids don't usually get to show up in court and have their say. To understand what is in their best interest, an attorney is appointed to offer a neutral opinion about custody or at least to present evidence that supports the children's point of view so the judge can get a full and complete understanding of what's going on in the family and how the children's needs can best be met.
Why the Law Guardian Matters
Another attorney in the mix might just seem like an added layer of bureaucracy to you, but this attorney can be the key to your case. He or she will either report directly to the judge with a recommendation about how to rule or will be able to present witnesses and question yours at trial. In the judge's eyes, the law guardian is the most unbiased person in the courtroom when it comes to custody and what he or she says can absolutely control the outcome of your custody case. Do not underestimate the significance of this.
Work with the Law Guardian
Working with the law guardian is the best way to have a successful outcome for your custody case. While you can't change the facts in your case, you can control the message you send, the appearance you give, the spin you put on the facts, and the public face you present. Many law guardians do home visits and yours may visit your home and talk privately to your child. Your law guardian will definitely interview you. While it's a bad idea to prep your kids about what to say if they meet with the LG, you can work hard to emphasize the positives about your home, your parenting, and your life. Be friendly, open, and positive in all your interactions.
For more tips on how to work with the law guardian or guardian ad litem in your custody case, read Your Child, Custody, and the Law Guardian or Guardian ad Litem.