Maybe your spouse alleged you were a neglectful parent. Maybe you alleged your spouse was actually abusive. For whatever reason, your custody case has escalated, and the court has appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) for your children.

A guardian ad litem’s job is to investigate the circumstances surrounding your child’s well-being and make recommendations to the court based on what they learn. Naturally, you want your meetings with this person to go well — and you’re conscious of how much is riding on their perceptions of you.

Here’s how you may be able to make the process easier:

  • Be cooperative and conscious of what’s happening: Your GAL probably has only a limited amount of time allotted for your case. Don’t treat your GAL like your therapist or your friend — they’re neither — and focus on just answering whatever questions you are asked without venting or complaining.
  • Be honest and respectful toward everyone involved: GALs are usually attorneys or mental health professionals, so they’re highly attuned to human behavior. If you’re trying to be deceptive, it’s likely to backfire on you. Similarly, watch how you try to frame the picture of your spouse for the GAL. If you’re overly negative, the GAL may feel like you’re unreasonable or simply vindictive. Stick to facts you can prove, not opinions.
  • Be organized and prepared: State your concerns about your spouse’s parenting in a way that focuses solely around how it negatively affects your child. In fact, all of your conversations with the GAL should be heavily focused around your children’s needs and feelings, not your own. Have any documentation that supports your position ready to hand over, if needed.

When you’re involved in a custody dispute that’s escalating, the best thing you can do for your children is to get experienced legal assistance as soon as possible.