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 allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse, 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 2017 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, we are an accredited Illinois MCLE provider. 

February 15, 2017 – How to Deal with Pro Se Litigants/Parentage Cases
Speakers:
Judge Ellen Flannigan
Lisa K. Nelson, Supervising Atty Domestic Relations Division, Office of Cook County Public Guardian
Laura Vallejo,Supervising Atty Parentage/Chicago Legal Clinic
David Pasulka, Attorney-at-Law
Seminar Materials (1)
Seminar Materials (2)

March 15, 2017 – Guidance for Child Reps When Children are Ill or Disabled
Speakers:
Dr. Kelly Lowry, PsyD, Lurie Children’s Hospital
Mark Shouger, Ronald McDonald House, House Director
Seminar Materials (1)
Seminar Materials (2)

May 18, 2017 – Helicopter Parents vs. Free Range Parents-Who’s Right?
Speaker:
Dr. Bennett L. Leventhal, MD  
Seminar Materials             

**Please note this seminar is being held on the 3rd Thursday of May

June 21, 2017 – Issues and Ethical Considerations for Attorneys Who Represent Children
Speakers:
Hon. Karen J. Bowes
Mr. James J. Grogan, ARDC Deputy Administrator/ Chief Counsel
Annette M. Fernholz, Attorney-at-Law

July 19, 2017 – Is 50/50 Parenting Realistic Even for Best Parents?
Speakers:
Hon. Mark Lopez
Dr. Louis J. Kraus, MD
Jacalyn Birnbaum, Attorney-at-Law                                                                                                                                                                                 

September 20, 2017 – Restrictions to Parenting
Speakers:
Hon. John T. Carr
Dr. Alan M. Jaffe, Psy.D.
Joel Levin, Attorney-at-Law

October 18, 2017 – Non-Traditional Models for High Conflict Cases
Speakers:
Gwenn Waldman, LCPC
David Levy, Attorney-at-Law
Dr. Rebecca Bailey, PhD, Transitioning Families

November 15, 2017 – Military/Veteran Issues
Speakers:
Brian Clauss, Executive Director,  Veteran’s Legal Support Center & Clinic
Terrence Benshoof, Attorney-at-Law
William Wigoda, Attorney-at-Law

                                



In some cases, the court will appoint the Office of the Public Guardian to represent minors in cases involving issues of allocation of parental responsibilities, parentage, support, relocation, property interest, abuse, or general welfare of the minor or dependent child. For more information about the Public Guardian, please visit the Office of the Public Guardian’s website.
Copyright 2017 by Circuit Court of Cook County