A guardian ad litem (GAL), who is also referred to an investigator or a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) is a person appointed by the court to make recommendations about the custody or visitation rights. Either parent can ask the court to appoint a GAL, usually if there are important issues about the safety or well-being of a child. For instance, if there are allegations of physical or sexual abuse against a parent, then a GAL appointment is likely to be appropriate. There is typically a fee for the services of a GAL in your case, which is typically based on a rather high hourly rate. In most cases, both parties are responsible for paying those fees, either equally or in proportion to their incomes.

A GAL’s job is to investigate the situations of both parents and the child. He or she may look at past court records, criminal histories, school records, medical records, and counseling records. The GAL also will interview both parents, the child, and any other individuals who might be able to produce evidence or give information about the situation. The GAL will listen to each parent’s allegations about each other and their arguments about which parenting arrangements are best for the children. Once the investigation is complete, the GAL will make a recommendation for the court to consider, which usually takes the form of a written report.

Child custody cases can be very complex, so you will need to consult a Washington child custody attorney about your rights and obligations under Washington law. With our legal knowledge of Washington child custody and parenting plan law, we can help you make the decisions in your case that will best benefit you and your family in your child custody case or in any other related family law matter. We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what is likely to be a difficult proceeding. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we handle family law cases that involve all types of issues, including paternity, divorce, child custody, child support, property division, and spousal support. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your Washington child custody, divorce, or family law case.