When parents cannot reach an agreement regarding custody and placement of their children in family cases in Wisconsin, the Judge will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (or GAL. for short) to represent the best interests of the children. The GAL is a neutral attorney selected by the Judge in a divorce, paternity or post-judgment case to advocate for the best interests of the children. The Judge will make orders regarding the payment of GAL fees which is generally an equal division. GAL’s bill for the time spent working on a case based on hourly rate determined by the Judge.
A GAL will review evidence and interview witnesses, including the parents, children themselves, medical professionals, teachers, etc., to form a recommendation regarding the custody and placement of the children. This recommendation is based on what the GAL determines to be in the best interest of the children. The recommendation is shared with the parents and the Court. Often, this recommendation is helpful to the parents in reaching an agreement settling custody and placement issues prior to a Trial.
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement after receiving the GAL’s recommendation, the Court will schedule a Trial during which the Judge makes an ultimate decision regarding custody and placement of the children. The GAL participates in the trial as an advocate for the best interests for the minor children.
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–Alison H.S. Davis