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What is a Guardian at Litem, Anyway?

Posted on in Family Law
A divorce court appoints Gardians at Litem, or GALs, to represent the best interest of a child during their parents' divorce. If a divorce goes smoothly, the parties, usually through their attorneys, are able to reach a mutually acceptable custody arrangement. However, it is not uncommon for divorces to turn even the most amicable parties into ferocious adversaries with children caught in the middle. RigersIf the divorce is hotly contested and there are children involved, there is a fear that there is an inherent risk that the parties do not have the child's best in mind. For example, in a fight over split custody, one parent may accuse the other of having an unsanitary or dangerous house that is unfit for children. Obviously, this is an allegation and it may or may not be true, but most judges will not disregard a potential source of harm to a child. This often results in divorce judges being faced with competing stories, each told with the emotion and ardor that usually accompanies divorce cases. What is a judge to do? Enter the GAL. The judge will appoint a GAL to act as an advocate for the child and ensure that the ultimate resolution is in the best interest of the child. In the example above, the GAL would probably inspect the residence to substantiate the allegation and report the findings to the judge. Again, the goal is not to prove which parent is telling the truth or lying, but to ensure that the child is in a safe place. The Texas Guardian at Litem statutes, Texas Family Code §107.001 at seq., set forth the powers and duties of a GALs. If a judge orders a GAL to represent a child, it is very important that you have an experienced Texas family law attorney on your side to ensure that your interests are represented adequately.  

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