Note to lawyers checking this out: unless you've had quite a bit of experience working with a Guardian Ad Litem, please do not answer my question. I really need the advice of a lawyer who has worked with Guardian Ad Litems quite a bit.We're asking the judge to appoint a GAL. The other side has already said that they do not want to appoint one, which makes sense since they have the most to lose... they have lied & been deceptive about so many things. So my hope is that they will finally be found out for preventing the kids from interacting with me, their disparaging remarks against me and trying to distance the kids from me. My question is when the GAL meets with me, what tips do you have for my interaction with the them? Thanks in advance!
State/Country relating to question: Indiana
I have represented clients who have a GAl in their case AND I am a certified GAL myself (and have worked as a GAL).
The best information I can provide is:
a) GALs are used to people coming in and completely trashing the other party. You want to be calm in your approach, rather than "And another thing...and then he/she...and then x, y, z."
Clearly you have some stories to tell and clearly you want to be heard...but you want to remain calm and...
b) you want to point out the most important stories that relate to the issues at hand
If you throw 1,000 stories at the GAL of wrongs that have happened, the GAL can't process everything and you appear that you're just on the warpath against the other party. Make a list beforehand of the stories and then categorize them and then prioritize them. So for example -
something like, "I realize the children don't want to see me right now. I believe it is because other parent is turning them against me. I say that because of this. (explain story.)
There was another recent example of y (explain another story)
Then say, "I have several other examples of this but don't want to flood you. I also want to make sure you have all the information you need. Do you want the other examples now, or maybe in writing, or you have enough?
Then move onto the next issue.
If you can get your ideas organized BEFORe the meeting, you're not throwing out one example on lying and then one example on turning the kids against you and then one example of the other parent hiding things from you and then two more examples on lying.
you want to have the example almost exclusively relate to CURRENT things going on. Bringing up things that happened long ago aren't helpful UNLESS it is to say, "This behavior (lying, etc.) has been going on a long time. I can give examples of that too if you'd like"
For every example, it is good to have as much backup ORGANIZED as you can.
So if you have 100 emails and bring up a story on lying and are then rooting through your papers for 10 minutes that isn't helpful.
If you bring lying up, then give examples, and then give emails AND highlight the relevant portions of the emails, that is helpful.
You can also summarize things, "If you read this email chain you'll see how he/she offered me Thursday and when I showed up, he/she claimed he/she never said I could have the kids on Thursday."
I hope this helps - and good luck.
18 years as a family law attorney, adjunct law professor
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