Anderson & Boback Logo

REPRESENTATION OF CHILDREN IN DISSOLUTION AND PARENTAGE PROCEEDINGS

Published
Categorized as Divorce Litigation

Pursuant to Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506) an attorney may be appointed on behalf of a child in any proceeding involving issues such as parenting time, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, etc. A party can file a motion asking for the court to appoint an attorney on behalf of a child. The court may also appoint an attorney on behalf of a child on its own motion, without a request from one of the parties.

The court may appoint an attorney on behalf of a child to serve in one of the following three (3) capacities: Attorney, Child Representative, or Guardian ad Litem.

If an attorney is appointed as the “Child’s Attorney,” the child will have independent legal counsel. The attorney owes the child the duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation.

When an attorney is appointed as a “Guardian ad litem,” the attorney will investigate the facts of the case. The attorney will interview the child and the parties. The Guardian ad Litem is often referred to as the “GAL.” The GAL typically submits a written report to the court. In the report, the GAL gives their recommendations as to the best interests of the child. All parties are able to read the written report. The GAL can be called as a witness at trial, for purposes of cross-examination regarding their written report and their recommendations.

Lastly, an attorney can be appointed as a “Child Representative.” In this capacity, the attorney has investigation powers like a Guardian ad Litem and they have the authority and obligation to participate in the litigation, like an attorney. The attorney will advocate what they, the attorney, find to be in the best interests of the child. To do so, first the attorney will review the facts and circumstances of the pending case between the parties. Then the attorney will meet with the child and the parties. Settlement is encouraged by an attorney acting as a child’s representative. Although a child representative must consider the child’s expressed wishes, the attorney is not bound by the child’s wishes, as the child representative is concerned with the best interests of the child. A child representative cannot disclose confidential communications made by the child. A child representative does not give the Court an opinion, recommendation, or report. Since a child representative participates in litigation, they may not be called as a witness at trial. Their role is to offer evidence-based legal arguments to support the best interests of the child. Prior to trial, a child representative discloses the position they intend to advocate, by way of a pre-trial memorandum for purposes of a settlement conference. The child representative’s pre-trial position cannot be considered evidence at trial.

When deciding whether or not to appoint an attorney on behalf of a child, the court considers the nature and adequacy of the evidence to be presented by the parties and the availability of other methods of obtaining information, including social service organizations and evaluations by mental health professions, as well as resources for payment.

Although the role of an attorney appointed on behalf of a child is very important to the case, the Judge is still the final decision-maker.

It is common for both parties to be responsible for paying the attorney fees for their child’s attorney, including the initial retainer. However, that does not necessarily mean that they would be equally (50/50) responsible. If you are interested in your child having representation in a pending matter or if an attorney has already been appointed on behalf of your child, it is very important to speak to an experienced attorney, as soon as possible.

Was this information helpful?

You May Also Like

A cohabitation agreement is an agreement or contract entered into between two people living together in the same household who are in a romantic relationship but not married. With more millennial couples choosing to live together, whether planning to marry…

When going through a divorce it's not uncommon to think "I never want to get married again!" But later, you may fall in love again and be ready to venture into marriage again. If you are planning to remarry, you…

While doing an initial consultation with an individual looking to get divorced, I have found it is common to get questions about whether it is possible for a divorcing couple to work together with an attorney to do a collaborative…

No one likes to pay spousal maintenance (formally called "alimony" or referred to as spousal support). When you are employed and your ex refuses to work, there is a greater reluctance to want to pay maintenance. In Chicago divorces, there…

Finding the best child custody lawyer in Chicago may seem like a daunting and intimidating process if you have never been involved in a legal dispute. This is especially true when it comes to a custody case involving your children…

Parenting disputes, and accusations of being a bad or unfit parent, are extremely common in the world of divorce, juvenile, and family law. Many parents enter the courtroom with a laundry list of accusations of poor parenting against the other…

RECENT POST
Categories
Archives
Anderson & Boback small logo

Download our Divorce Planning Guide today!

Get the information you need to prepare for divorce with our free resource Guide to Planning for Your Divorce.

What our clients are saying

Why Choose
ANDERSON & BOBACK?

Schedule a Discreet Consultation Today!

    Firm Overview
    ANDERSON & BOBACK?

    Anderson & Boback is a highly-respected, experienced Chicago family law firm, skilled in negotiation and litigation. When divorce and other family law issues make your life chaotic and uncertain, you want your case resolved as quickly and fairly as possible. Call Now 312-715-0870