Friend of the Court/Guardian ad Litem Appointments

Kellner Green attorneys often serve as a Court appointed Friend of the Court or Guardian ad Litem. Attorneys are appointed by judges in custody and divorce cases to assist the Court in issuing child-related orders. The parties are responsible for the cost of these services and are often ordered to divide the fees equally or in proportion to their respective incomes.

A Friend of the Court (FOC) is usually a practicing attorney who, when appointed by a judge, will perform a thorough investigation, prepare a report, and make recommendations the FOC believes are in best interest of the involved children. During the FOC’s investigation, they may interview the parties involved, the children, other collateral witnesses such as stepparents, grandparents, teachers, and medical providers. The FOC may also review relevant records such as medical, therapeutic, and educational records. Importantly, the involvement of an FOC may prevent a child from having to appear before the Court themselves. This is important in the Court’s ongoing effort to prevent the traumatization of children while their parents engage in litigation. The recommendations of the FOC often result in the parties settling their case and avoiding expensive and adversarial litigation. If the parties do not agree with the FOC’s recommendations, however, the FOC must testify and is subject to cross examination regarding their report.

The role of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) differs in many respects from that of the FOC. The Guardian ad Litem is appointed to serve as an attorney for the parties’ children. Both the GAL and the FOC are tasked with informing the Court of what they believe to be in the child’s best interest. The FOC does that through their recommendations, while the GAL does it through their advocacy as a lawyer within the proceeding. The GAL will not make recommendations to the Court, but rather will file motions, participate in hearings, and argue to the Court what steps or orders best serve the interests of the subject children. Like an FOC, the GAL may meet with the parties, children, necessary collateral parties, and review all relevant records.

It may be necessary to request the services of a Friend of the Court or a Guardian ad Litem in your contested divorce or custody proceeding. The services of either an FOC or GAL can be instrumental to achieving an outcome that best provides for your children. The attorneys of Kellner Green can help you understand the roles of both the FOC and GAL and help you decide if one should be requested in your case.

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