Meeting with the guardian ad litem
I have written a number of recent blogs, focused on guardian ad litem issues. Today’s blog addresses the first interview with the guardian ad litem including what to expect and how to conduct yourself at the meeting. Let’s paint the picture first. You and your spouse are going through a divorce and cannot agree as to a placement schedule for your minor children. As the mother, you are asking for primary placement and the father is asking for 50/50 placement. You went through mediation and you could not reach an agreement and now the court has appointed a guardian ad litem to advocate for the best interests of the minor child.
Your attorney has contacted you to let you know who the guardian ad litem is, and may have already received a brief introductory letter from the guardian ad litem. Your attorney has given the consent that the guardian ad litem can meet you alone, without your attorney present and the guardian ad litem has now contacted you to set up an initial interview.
You have a number of questions and concerns going into the meeting; What is the guardian ad litem going to ask you? What should you be prepared to tell the guardian ad litem? Should you bring documents and evidence with you to the meeting? Do you get to bring anyone along with you? How long will the meeting take? Does it matter if you get into see the guardian ad litem first, before your spouse? Should you try to make look your spouse look bad to the guardian ad litem? Do you tell the guardian ad litem where you think the children want to live? Should you meet with your own attorney first, to get prepared for the meeting? These are all normal concerns and emotions that litigants have when going through a custody battle.
It is normal to be anxious when meeting with the guardian ad litem for the first time, after all, we are only talking about your most prized possession, your children. The guardian ad litem will conduct most of the interview and probably ask you a number of different questions; You should be prepared with your attorney in advance to address these questions, such as; What has been the historical placement arrangement up and until now? What has been your role with the children in raising them? What has been your spouse’s role with the children in raising them? What are you proposing to be the alternate placement or visitation schedule to the other parent? Where do you plan to live after the divorce? Where do you picture the children going to school after the divorce? How do you you propose transportation (pick up and drop offs) of the children be allocated between both of you during your respective periods of placement? Are there any concerns about substance abuse, whether alcohol or drug related with your spouse? Is there any history of domestic violence between you and your spouse, and if so, has it been documented? Are there any concerns of mental health issues? Has there been any criminal problems with your spouse? Are there any special concerns over your children? Do you have a support network of people or family to help you with the children? Where do you work and does your job or hours work interfere at all with your ability to take care of the children?
As you can see, there may be a multitude of questions that the guardian ad litem has for you. You need to think through what questions may be asked, similar to these, and what your responses are going to be to each of them in advance. You should not plan to bring diaries, binders, photographs, calendars, notebooks, witness statements or any other evidence. If you tell the guardian ad litem what you have at home and what they may be interested in reviewing, they will let you know what they want to review.
You should not necessarily use the interview as an opportunity to make your spouse look bad. You should stick to the facts and evidence and the guardian ad litem can draw their own conclusions about whether your spouse is a bad person or otherwise not suitable to have the placement they are requesting.
IF you are going through a divorce and fighting over custody of your children, call the experienced family lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C. today for an initial consultation.