The judge has appointed a Guardian ad Litem, what is that?
In the state of Wisconsin, Guardian Ad Litems, or GALs, must be attorneys with special training. GALs may be appointed
to matters regarding children; disputed paternity, disputed custody or placement, possible abuse, and parental rights termination among many other situations. The GAL can also be appointed to represent adults who are unable to represent their own best
interests in matters such as protective placements, and treatment, among other matters.
The GAL accepts the appointment by the court to represent the "best interest" of the child or vulnerable adult, not the person of the child or adult, often the child or adult may have an advocate attorney they have hired to represent them.
The GAL will take some time to interview those parties who have an interest in the welfare of the minor child or adult ward, and
gather reports and information. The GAL will then provide information to help the judge make a determination about the matter
being disputed. The GAL will always consider the wishes of the child or adult ward, but the best interest determined by the GAL
need not, and may not be the same as the wishes of the child or adult.
The GAL is compensated in whatever manner is determined by the appointing court. For instance, if the court has determined that parents in a disputed custody matter are responsible to pay the GAL in equal portions, failure to make the required payment may interfere with the process and result in further court intervention. In matters regarding vulnerable adults, the fees are commonly paid by the county or by a trustee of resources belonging to the adult.
If you have been contacted by our office with regard to a GAL matter please respond promptly and candidly, the welfare of a child or vulnerable adult rests in the balance. If possible any and all responses will remain confidential.