Hingham, MA family law attorney Jason V. Owens explains how Guardian ad Litems (GAL) impact child custody cases?
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So guardian ad litems, or GALs, are common in cases across the country. In Massachusetts, they fill the role as the eyes and ears for the court. They perform an investigation, they interview the parties, they interview children, and they interview people who have knowledge about children, like doctors or teachers or therapists. They then take that information and they put it together in a report that gets presented to the court. One of the things that’s important about a GAL report is that it’s admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule, even though these are out-of-court statements that are being put into a report. In Massachusetts, GALs are frequently appointed in child custody cases in order to make recommendations for parenting time and child custody. Part of our job as an attorney is to help clients evaluate the GAL process, understand how the questions will work and understand how to behave during a GAL investigation. It’s critical that we understand is this GAL a therapist, an attorney, someone who’s well-known in the court system or a new GAL. All of those factors go into making sure that clients get the best outcome possible when a GAL is involved in the custody case.