Wheaton Family Law Attorney for Child Custody Evaluations 

Carol Stream child custody lawyer for 604 evaluations and guardians ad litem

Lawyers for Cases Involving Guardians Ad Litem in Glen Ellyn, Warrenville, and DuPage County

Divorcing or unmarried parents often experience contentious disputes regarding their children. Parents are encouraged to work together through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law to create a parenting plan that addresses the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. However, if they are unable to reach mutually agreeable decisions, outside experts may be appointed to evaluate the situation and offer recommendations to the court about how to resolve these matters. In these cases, it is important to work with an attorney who can address parental rights while working to protect children's best interests.

The lawyers of McSwain Nagle Giese & Rapp, P.C. understand the legal and emotional issues that are often involved in child custody cases, and we are dedicated to helping our clients resolve these disputes effectively. We have more than 100 years of combined legal experience, and several of our attorneys have worked as court-appointed guardians ad litem in a variety of family law cases. We can help you understand the best ways to respond in these situations, and we will advocate on your behalf throughout the legal process.

Guardians Ad Litem

In divorce or child custody cases, each parent has the right to be represented by an attorney, but it may also be necessary for the court to appoint a lawyer who can advocate for the best interests of the child. These attorneys are known as guardians ad litem (GALs) or child representatives, and a GAL may be appointed on the judge's own accord or upon the request of either party. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506) states that a guardian ad litem should investigate the facts of the case and submit a report providing recommendations for how to resolve matters in a way that will protect the child's best interests.

During an investigation, a GAL may interview both parents and the child, and they may also visit the parents' homes, observe each parent as they interact with their children, or contact other relevant parties, such as extended family members, teachers, doctors, or therapists. The GAL may offer either a written or oral report to the court, and they may be called as a witness during divorce litigation and cross-examined by both parties. While a judge is not required to follow the GAL's recommendations, their opinion will typically be given serious consideration when making decisions about child custody and child related matters. Therefore, it is important that clients are well-prepared for the process and have an attorney who can assist them in obtaining the most favorable recommendations.

604 Child Custody Evaluations

In some cases, other types of experts may be called upon to evaluate a case and offer recommendations about decisions related to parenting time/decision making (child custody), child relocation, or other child-related matters. These are known as "604 evaluations," because they are defined in Section 604.10 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. An evaluator is typically an experienced psychologist, and they may be appointed by a judge or upon the motion of either party, with the purpose of helping the judge evaluate and determine what is in the children's best interests.

A child custody evaluation typically involves  psychological tests of the parents and, in some cases, the children, interviews with the parties and other people or professionals who have relationships with the parents or children, observation of the parents with their children, a review of educational or medical records, and a contacts with third-party collateral witnesses. These evaluations are often more extensive and invasive than an investigation performed by a guardian ad litem. Upon completion of the evaluation, the evaluator will submit a written report to the court and the parties. This report must include:

  • A description of all of the procedures followed during the evaluation.
  • Reports summarizing the data collected and the results of any tests.
  • Conclusions and recommendations regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities or child relocation.
  • An explanation of any impediments or limitations that affected the evaluation or any reservations the evaluator has about the recommendations provided.

An evaluator's report will likely be admitted as evidence in a case, and the evaluator may testify as a witness in a trial, in which case the other party will have the opportunity to cross-examine the evaluator regarding their report and recommendations.

Contact Our Winfield Child Custody Attorneys

With our experience working as GALs and representing clients in divorce and family law cases, we can help you determine when a guardian ad litem or child custody evaluation may be necessary. We will make sure you understand your rights and the best ways to respond during an investigation or evaluation. With our help, you can reach an outcome to your case that protects your parental rights and your children's best interests. Contact our office today by calling 630-407-1200 to arrange a free consultation. We provide legal help with divorce and child custody cases throughout DuPage, Cook, Kendall, Will, and Kane Counties, including, Naperville, Winfield, Wheaton, Warrenville, Glen Ellyn, Glendale Heights, and Carol Stream.

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