What If I Do Not Agree With the Guardian ad Litem’s (GAL) Recommendation in Wisconsin?

When a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) makes his or her recommendation one parent is not going to be happy with the outcome.  If you are have received a less than favorable recommendation, don’t panic.  The GAL is not your judge and accordingly, will not be rendering decisions in your case.    You need to remember that the recommendation of the GAL becomes his or her “client” and therefore he or she needs to present evidence to support it.  Just like your lawyer needs to present exhibits and witnesses to support your position, the GAL needs to present evidence and witnesses to support his or her recommendation.  While judges do give GAL recommendations great weight, it is against public policy to simply rubber stamp the recommendation without a full hearing. 

The GAL should expect that a parent will respectfully challenge him or her by asking the basis for the recommendation.   The litigants have a right to see the documents and talk to the people who were the reason for the recommendation.   You also have to remember that your attorney will be afforded the opportunity to cross examine the GAL’s witnesses at trial. Therefore, if you feel that a GAL’s witness made an error your attorney can rectify that error at trial, if not before. 

It is also important to remember that a GAL should not make a final recommendation until the completion of trial.  Therefore, any recommendation made prior to trial is a “preliminary’ recommendation.   You have the ability to change the GAL’s recommendation by heeding his or her advice prior to the start of trial.  

Rebecca K. Millenbach

8 thoughts on “What If I Do Not Agree With the Guardian ad Litem’s (GAL) Recommendation in Wisconsin?

  1. I am going through a custody battle and I was wondering if my husband was allowed to be in the room with my daughter when the garden ad litem was talking to her about things that when on in the home during the marriage . My daughter knew that her father yelled and cussed at me in front of her all the time but she couldn’t say anything because her father was right there in the room with her. I was wonder if that was legal for him to be in the room when I wasn’t allowed to be in the room when my daughter was being talked to . Could you please let me know because that doesn’t seem right to me and I really need to know.

    • It isn’t a matter of being legal or not – it is up to the GAL as to how he or she conducts the interview. However, I agree that your concern may be valid. You should address this directly with the GAL – in a civil and non-confrontational way. If you have an attorney, you should ask your attorney to do this.

  2. My child’s GAL left out important information in her initial report. I provided her with evidence of parental alienation and verbal abuse towards the child from her dad (13 yr old female). Most of her findings came from the interview she had with the child’s therapist, who by the way, does not like me since I asked her to refer us to someone who could help my child because she was not getting any better. About 2 years ago my ex started brain washing her and turning her against me. She even called me one night to tell me she wanted to stay full time with her dad ( we have her 50/50 and I am primary from when we went to court in 2008). With that being said, I am not surprised the child said some bad things about me. Since then, out relationship has gotten better than ever. She tells me things she cannot tell her dad and trusts me. The report said father was strict and his loud voice scared her. Excuse me? He has called her a Bi$#h, who##, slu$, told her he would disown her if he felt betrayed by her. She said it happens so much his apologies did not mean much. The report said there was no evidence of the father alienating. I gave the GAL and therapist a recording of her telling me she didn’t want to stay with me and she didn’t hang up the phone so I got him recorded telling her she did the right thing and no matter what her mother did, we know how she really is don’t we? He went on and on telling her it would be hard at first but she would stop hurting. She never wanted to call me and tell me that! Recently, she came to me and said “Mama,my dad was writing on a chalk board telling me what to say to you and that is why I kept pausing.” WHY was this left out of the report? Excuse me, am I on another planet or is that NOT alienation? I am floored. Absolutely floored. I told my attorney and made a list of the report where it was just WRONG and she is going to contact the GAL but I feel helpless. What else can I do? Is it LEGAL for a therapist to leave out what my child told her? She told her therapist her dad called her names and the therapist’s advise was to tell him how it made her feel. When my daughter said she was scared to tell him, the therapist offered to sit down with her dad and talk to him for her. This was ALL left out. I go to therapy twice a month just to get advise on how to deal with my daughter’s fragility and that report said I was dismissive to her feelings? WHAT?? This has made me lose faith in the justice system and in GAL. She is known for her thoroughness but she didn’t do her homework at all. One more thing, the father said he last used cocaine in 2003. That’s BS because he was arrested in 2006 with an 8 ball and in 2007 had a cocaine overdose induced seizure and that is when and WHY I took him to court the first time. He took me this time for no other reason than to use the courts to complete the alienation process. I am beside myself. This was only the initial report but I am terrified! This is completely WRONG and unjust. What can I do? Somebody please help. Any advise?

    • I am afraid I cannot comment specifically on your situation or give you legal advice. If your attorney is not giving the assistance or advice you are requesting, then perhaps you should seek alternate counsel. Or, perhaps you are not listening to his or her advice. An experienced family law attorney should be able to tell you if your fears or concerns are valid or overblown. Sometimes what you believe is an important fact is generally not considered by the court in your county. Every attorney, judge, social worker or GAL is different and has different beliefs, biases or prejudices. In the end, however, a GAL does not get to make the decision. If you believe that she/he is wrong, then it is your right to take your case to trial and present your evidence to the judge who DOES get to decide. Again, this is something your attorney is able to assist you with and you should listen to her advice.

  3. The Guardian Ad Litem, immediately upon our first meeting at which I was only to provide my evidence and present my position refused to even look at or accept any of the evidence which had brought to provide to that individual. He then immediately began to berate and challenge with information he had received from the x-wife. Further he stated that she was going to be seeking full custody and then said: “It didn’t look good for you.” Upon receiving this individuals report it addressed on of the more pertinent concerns: the x-wife has arbitrarily changed the first name of the daughter from that given to her at birth and by which she has been referred too all of her life. He wrote that the husband, who is opposing this change was to support and join with the x-wife in making that change a reality!

    • I’m sorry that you had a negative experience with the Guardian ad Litem. Some GAL’s are better than others (just like judges and court commissioners, I might add) which is why it is often better to try to settle your case. If you have an attorney, you should talk to him or her about this situation. If you do not, then I strongly suggest that you consult with an experienced attorney in your county to address your concerns.

    • My ex has instilled hate in my son. My ex can’t and won’t share my son. I just couldn’t make it. the ex’s attorney just financial destroyed me. I am recovering from this, my attorneys were not good at all. They just wanted to bill me. My son was told I abandon him. The GAL DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Except bill me. My ex husband had been arrested many times even for intimidation. If he didn’t get his way he would hurt me or my son. I am not allowed much at all. Christmas in blizzard conditions like last year. We were almost killed after traveling 5 states away. I get Sundays 30 minutes call. I sneak them in when ever I can. I told my son call me anytime he wants. Only when he needs money or something his Dad won’t give him. If I don’t he stops being nice and holds it against me. I get 2 weeks during the summer. 1 week at a time. He must go to another state where I have to travel 10 hours too. Be cause his Dad doesn’t want him to fly. He doesn’t want me around. I want a relationship with my son not my ex. I absolutely agree with the mediation person. He said I should have the GAL fired. but, I couldn’t because the Judge said no. I find Waupaca, Wisconsin judge and lawyers are friends and what ever they say goes. I just wanted my son and all they want me to do is pay. Big money. nothing more. The ex’s lawyer doesn’t know me and because I didn’t have a lawyer he called me names and the Judge agrees. My ex was in a serious accident and my son is being a caretaker. What to do pay more? I want my son but, the ex’s lawyer said nothing many times I went there but, nothing ever got done always delayed. Wasted trips. I went more than 10 times. what to do?

  4. The GAL never investigated the extremely poor housing conditions. Even when it was reported to CPS. I called them and told them there is no floor in the front. My son has been coughing and coughing and when I went to bring in Christmas presents and noticed it. Then again in March when I was helping my son bring in his summer clothes for shopping this time there was dog poop in the dirt with no floor. No one cares. I reported it to CPS and spoke too Anne Goode as soon as we got back in March first of the week. I called my attorney and told her and then to the GAL to expect a report. He never got it because he never did a thing about it. Shame on the GAL. The GAL told my attorney he liked me I am like this is the weirdest thing I ever heard of. I can’t afford another attorney. I had 3 the second one never showed up to court after the fourth time she wanted more payment but never showed up. The day I was ordered to pay child support I was to meet my son after. But, his Dad never bothered to show up. His attorney said he didn’t have to and it was court ordered. Contempt of court is a joke.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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