What Are the Different Child Representative Roles in Illinois?

Rolling Meadows IL child custody lawyerIn our previous post, we discussed at length what parents can expect when a guardian ad litem is appointed to a case involving the allocation of parental responsibilities in Illinois. But guardians ad litem are not the only people involved in discovering and representing the best interests of a child in a custody dispute.

In addition to a guardian ad litem, an Illinois court may assign a custody evaluator or a child representative. Although these people play somewhat similar roles in a custody evaluation, there are some crucial differences that determine which of them may be involved.

What is a Custody Evaluator?

A custody evaluator is a third party, usually a psychologist or psychiatrist, who takes an active, investigative role in a child’s home environment in order to make a report–and possibly a recommendation. Custody evaluators will interview parents, children, and other individuals who frequently interact with the child, such as extended family members, teachers, or neighbors.

Custody evaluators will often order extensive psychological testing for parents and children. They can do extended home visits, observing parent-child interactions and getting a sense of what living with a parent is really like for a child. Custody evaluators may collect relevant records, such as the criminal history of people living in the child’s home, the child’s school performance, or the medical histories of the involved parties.

At the end of the investigation, a custody evaluator will create a report and will often issue a recommendation to the court that a judge will consider when making a custody decision.

What is an Attorney for the Child?

An attorney for the child is just like an attorney for an adult. The attorney must provide independent legal counsel and has the same duty of confidentiality, loyalty, and competent representation to the child. An attorney for the child tends to be appointed when the child is older, and their interests and preferences may weigh more heavily in a custody dispute.

What is a Child Representative?

A child representative carries out functions that are similar to both a guardian ad litem and an attorney for the child. Like a guardian ad litem, a child representative will meet with the parents and the child and investigate the facts of the case to understand the child’s best interests. Like an attorney for the child, a child representative will advocate on the child’s behalf in litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or an out-of-court settlement. However, the child representative does not create a report for the court or testify as a witness, and they are not bound to act based on the child’s wishes.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Family Law Attorney

If you are involved in a custody dispute and need help from an experienced Cook County, IL family lawyer, contact Cosley Law Office. We can help you learn your options and navigate your legal proceedings with confidence. Call us today at 847-253-3100 for a free, confidential consultation.

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Portals/0/Domestic%20Relations%20Division/DRfiles/CR-GAL.pdf

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=075000050K506

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