If you’re dealing with DHR and there is an active custody case in the Juvenile Court system, Alabama law mandates that a Guardian ad Litem, “GAL” (pronounced /jē/ • /ā/ • /el/), be appointed. For practical purposes, think of the GAL as a lawyer for the child or children involved, just like your lawyer. DO NOT think of the GAL as some extension of the Court with any more legal authority than your lawyer has. Here are some basics…
A GAL “is an officer of the court and is entitled to argue his client’s case as any other attorney involved in the case.” C.J.L. v. M.W.B., 879 So. 2d 1169, 1181 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003). So just like your lawyer…
[A] trial court may consider, although it is not bound to follow, a recommendation made by a guardian ad litem. Moody v. Nagle, 811 So.2d 546, 548 (Ala.Civ.App.2001).
You have every right to have your lawyer present when speaking with the GAL. —> “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized by law to do so.” Rule 4.2., Ala. R. Prof. Cond.
(*** Note – the GAL is probably authorized by a Court order to enter and inspect your home and or meet with the child. That DOES NOT mean you have to sit down and talk about the case with the GAL — it DOES mean that you probably have to politely and respectfully facilitate the GAL’s home inspection and the GAL’s communication with your child. If the GAL wants to meet with you personally, you can politely and respectfully request that they contact your lawyer’s office to get the information they need and or find a time to sit down with you with your lawyer present.)
This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit www.ThinkFoxtrot.com/public_calendars/ to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot