CHILD REPRESENTATIVE/GUARDIAN AD LITEM

An attorney for the child is an attorney who represents the parties’ child(ren).  The attorney for the child provides independent legal counsel for the child(ren) and owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client.

A child representative is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren) that advocates what the child representative finds to be in the best interests of the child(ren) after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case.  The child representative is required to meet with the child(ren) and the parties, investigate the facts of the case, and encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution.  Unlike a guardian ad litem, the child representative cannot be called as a witness to testify.  For more information about child representatives, please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506). 
A guardian ad litem (also known as a “GAL”) is an attorney for the parties’ child(ren). The guardian ad litem is required to investigate the facts of the case, interview the child(ren) and the parties, and testify or submit a written report to the court regarding his or her recommendations in accordance with the best interest of the child.  Unlike a child representative, the guardian ad litem may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem's report or recommendations.  For more information about GALs, please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506).

The court has the discretion to order fees paid to the child's attorney, GAL or child representative, which may include a retainer fee.  The court will order that these fees be paid by either or both parents, by the marital/civil union estate, if applicable, or by the child's separate estate, if applicable. 

If you cannot afford to pay for a child’s attorney, child representative or guardian ad litem, the court may appoint the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian which has sliding scale fees.  Court appointments of the Public Guardian in a Domestic Relations case may be made if all parties and children live in Cook County, if at least one of the parties is represented by an attorney, and if the parties have attempted mediation of their dispute prior to the appointment.

In any proceeding involving the support, custody, visitation, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the parties’ child(ren).  The court may do so on its own motion or by motion of a party.  For more information about the appointment of an attorney for the child(ren), please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506).

To become a Domestic Relations child representative / guardian ad litem, you must submit an application to the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations.  The minimum requirements for becoming a child representative/guardian ad litem are included in the application packet. If you meet the minimum requirements, you will be interviewed by the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations and members of the Child Representative Screening Committee.  If you are accepted by the Presiding Judge and the Committee, you will then be required to watch a training video and meet with two active child representatives/GALs for training.  After all of your training is complete, you will be placed on the active Domestic Relations child representative/guardian ad litem roster, which will be distributed to the Domestic Relations judges.  For more information on this process, you can contact the law clerks for the Domestic Relations Division at (312) 603-3025.

Once you are placed on the active child representative/guardian ad litem roster, you will need to complete a minimum of three (3) seminar credit hours and do one pro bono case per year.  You can acquire seminar credit hours by either attending child representative seminars, which are hosted by the Domestic Relations Division or by training new child representatives/guardian ad litems. Attending or participating in seminars outside of the Domestic Relations Division may count towards your credit hours, but are subject to the approval of the Presiding Judge of Domestic Relations.  If you fail to complete your required hours in a given year, you will be removed from the active Domestic Relations child representative/guardian ad litem roster and will not be assigned to any more cases. 

THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY
DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION
CHILD REPRESENTATIVE CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION SEMINARS

All seminars are held in Courtroom 1905 of the Richard J. Daley Center and run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., unless otherwise indicated. Seminars are generally held on the third Wednesday of every month.

In order to maintain eligibility on the approved Child Representative list, three (3) seminar credits must be acquired each year. In addition, the Domestic Relations Division is an accredited Illinois MCLE provider.

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February 27, 2014   -   TBA by Dr. Bennett Leventhal

Speaker:       Dr. Bennett Leventhal, MD, Deputy Director - Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

***Please note the February Seminar takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month***

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March 19, 2014   -   Proper Protocol for the Use of Child Psychologists in High-Conflict Cases (Therapeutic)

 Speaker:         Dr. William Pinsof, PhD, LMFT – The Family Institute
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May 21, 2014   -   Child Specific Outcomes               

Speaker:         Dr. Alex Lickerman, MD – University of Chicago

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June 18, 2014   -   LGBT CHILDREN
 
Speakers:

·         Honorable Nancy Katz - Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County                                         

·         Carol Jones, Attorney

·         TBA                       

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July 16, 2014   -   Children of Divorce         

Speakers:

·         Joel Levin, Attorney

·         Howard Rosenberg, Attorney

·         Dr. Phyllis Amabile, MD

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September 17, 2014   –   Pros, Cons and How-tos on In-Cameras

Speakers:

·         Honorable Mark Lopez, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Jeanne Reynolds, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Lisa Ruble-Murphy, Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

·         Honorable Susan Snow, Ret.

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October 15, 2014   -   Impact of Multi-Cultural Families

Speakers:

·         Azam Nizamuddin, Attorney

·         Itedal Shalabi – Arab American Family Services

·         Representative from Apna Ghar

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November 19, 2014   -   Representing Children With Medical, Behavioral and Developmental Special Needs           

Speaker:   Dr. Louis Kraus, MD

In some cases, the court will appoint the Office of the Public Guardian to represent minors in cases involving issues of custody, visitation, support, removal from the jurisdiction, and risk of harm in orders of protection hearings. For more information about the Public Guardian, please visit the Office of the Public Guardian’s website.
Copyright 2014 by Circuit Court of Cook County