Interestingly, over the last few days, several people have asked me the same question; that is, can you get your own guardian ad litem appointed, or bring some other person to court for your child as their guardian ad litem?
The answer under Wisconsin law is “no.” The court appoints the guardian ad litem. Whenever there is a statutory basis to have the guardian ad litem appointed, typically where custody and placement are at an issue, or where there is other special concern for the best interests of a child, the judge assigned to the case will have a guardian ad litem appointed. The court selects the guardian ad litem from a list that they keep of those individual attorneys who have the required continuing legal education credits to serve as guardian ad litem. Some counties also take the position that only attorneys who practice within that county or reside in that county may be appointed as a guardian ad litem.
Sometimes attorneys will suggest to the judge a particular attorney that they wish appointed as a guardian ad litem, but even then, the judge may decide to appoint someone from their list, rather than taking the suggestion from the attorneys as to what attorney should be appointed to advocate for the minor children.
A litigant is not free to hire an attorney to act as a guardian ad litem for their children and have that guardian ad litem make recommendations to the court, and override, the statutory process and system for how the judge appoints the guardian ad litem or how the court receives the recommendation for the guardian ad litem. Likewise, as pointed out above, the litigants are not able to have input on who the guardian ad litem should be. They may or may not like the guardian ad litem, but the court is the one who makes that election, not the parties.
Being a guardian ad litem is not a popularity contest and where parties are fighting over where their children are going to live, inevitably, the guardian ad litem has to make a recommendation that either may make one party mad or in some cases, may make both parties mad. If the parties do not like the recommendation of the guardian ad litem, they are free to negotiate their own agreement with the other parent, or take the case to trial and let the judge decide what custody or placement should be.
In no case, do the parties have input on the selection of the guardian ad litem nor can they hire their own private lawyer to advocate for their children in family court. I have been practicing family law for over 36 years and have never seen it, nor have I ever heard of it.
If you have questions about custody in Wisconsin or the appointment of a guardian ad litem, contact the award winning family lawyers at Karp & Iancu, S.C. today.
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Milwaukee, WI 53226
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