If you’re a parent considering divorcing your spouse, you might have come across the term Guardian ad Litem (GAL). While the role of GALs can differ from state-to-state, a GAL in NH will work to ensure that your children’s best interests are considered throughout your entire divorce process. 

Naturally, this can put even the most well-intentioned parents on the defensive, but it shouldn’t. Your family dynamic is changing; everyone will be affected and your children deserve to have their voices heard. If it helps, consider the GAL like your children’s own attorney, as your family reconfigures its structure. 

As a matter of fact, many GALs are attorneys or otherwise qualified individuals with specialized training in child advocacy, family law, and the judicial process.

Does every divorcing couple in NH need a GAL?

Not necessarily. As a general rule, the court appoints a GAL when parents cannot agree on custody or when there are concerns about the child’s welfare. Either parent can request a GAL, or the court may decide on its own that one is necessary. Once appointed, the GAL’s primary duty is to investigate and provide recommendations to the court regarding the child’s best interests.

How does a NH GAL arrive at their recommendations?

Rest assured that a GAL must complete many steps before determining what they believe is in the best interest of a child in NH. As a general rule, the process follows a trajectory similar to this one: 

Step 1: Initial investigation

For many families, this sounds far more ominous than it should. During their investigation, the GAL gathers relevant information about the child’s situation. This may involve interviewing parents, the child, family members, teachers, healthcare providers, and any other individuals who can provide insight into the child’s life.

Step 2: Home visits

Part of a GAL’s investigation may include visiting the homes of both parents to assess living conditions and the child’s environment, which helps them get a sense of each parent’s capacity to provide a stable and supportive home.

Step 3: Reviewing documents

As simple as this task sounds, the GAL is tasked with reviewing a variety of documents such as school records, medical records, and any other pertinent information that clarify the picture, regarding the child’s needs and circumstances.

Step 4: Advocacy

This represents the reason why so many attorneys and other professionals became GALs in the first place: to advocate for the child’s best interests throughout the legal proceedings. Such advocacy might include attending court hearings, mediation sessions, and other related meetings.

Step 5: Reporting

With their investigation complete, the GAL prepares a detailed report for the court, which will feature all of their findings and recommendations regarding custody, visitation, and any other issues affecting the child’s welfare.

Step 6: Testimony

In some cases, the GAL may be called to testify in court to explain their findings and recommendations. This gives them an opportunity to provide an objective perspective to help the judge make informed decisions.

Get on board with your NH GAL

While the appointment of a GAL to a NH divorce case might sound invasive to the parents going through the process, it’s important to recognize that a GAL can actually provide peace of mind. At the end of the day, your GAL is an honest advocate focused solely on your child’s future best interests. 

Have additional questions or concerns about a GAL appointment? Need representation for your NH divorce? 

Contact us anytime! 

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