CHILD REPRESENTATIVE/GUARDIAN AD LITEM

What is a Child Representative?

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). 

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

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).

What is an Attorney for the Child?

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. For more information about attorneys for the child, please see Section 506 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/506)

Who Pays the Fees for an Attorney for the Child/Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem?

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.

How is a Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem Appointed?

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).

Who Has Been Approved as a Domestic Relations Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem?

The current list of attorneys who have been approved as Child Representatives/Guardians Ad Litem can be found here.

How do I Become a Domestic Relations Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem?

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. Pursuant to General Orders 2013 D 3 and 2015 D 6, you may also apply to become a child representative / guardian ad litem after completing the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (“CVLS”) Pro Bono Child Representative Program.

After submitting your application, you will be interviewed by the 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.

The current list of members of the Child Representative Screening Committee
can be found here.

Requirements to Remain on Domestic Relations Active Child Representative/G.A.L. Roster

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. 

Child Representative Seminar List

THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY

DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION

CHILD REPRESENTATIVE CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION SEMINARS

All 2022 seminars will be held via Zoom unless otherwise notified and run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Please note seminars may be scheduled on days other than Wednesdays.  Please refer to the schedule.

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.

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February 16, 2022 –Social Media, What are Children & Teens Using? What are the Pitfalls? What Do Parents Need to Know:

              Speaker:

  • Detective Jada Bailey, Chicago Police Department  312-492-3847

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March 16, 2022 –Representing Children in International Abduction Cases/ Role of Child Rep in a Hague Case

              Speakers:

  • Joy Feinberg, Attorney-at-Law
  • Dr. Melissa Kucinksi, Professor-of-Law
  • Stacey Platt, Attorney-at-Law

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May 18, 2022  COVID & Other Novel Issues

              Speaker:

  • Dr. Bennett Leventhal

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June 15, 2022  Addressing Children with a History of Trauma

              Materials: Seminar materials
                                 Mental Health First Aid Youth

                                 NCTSN Bench Card
              Speakers:

  • Hon. Maritza Martinez
  • Kathryn Ciesla, Attorney-at-Law
  • Thomas Tharayil, LCSW, BCD

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July 20, 2022   - How Do We Develop a Sense of Cultural Humility? How Do Folks from Different Cultures Approach Marriage, Divorce, Parenting, Mental Health, Sexuality

            Speakers:

  • Lester Barclay, Attorney-at-Law,
  • Rabbi Meirchairivka Benhiyoun,
  • Paul Chawla, Attorney-at-Law
  • Nafisa Dhanani Jiwani, Conciliation and Arbitration Board of USA
  • Mehreen M. Rajabali

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September 22, 2022**Please note this is a Thursday

                What Judges Want & Really Need from GALs and Child Reps, Custody Evaluators, Home Study Evaluators 

              Speakers:

  • Hon. Julie Aimen
  • Jennifer Lavin, Attorney-at-Law, Moderator
  • Hon. Regina Scannicchio
  • Hon. William Yu

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October 18, 2022 **Please note this is a Tuesday

               Supervised Visitation v. Therapeutic Supervised Visitation-What’s the Difference? What’s Expected?

               Reunification Therapy-What is entailed?  When is it Appropriate?  Does it Work?

Speakers:

  • Hon.  Renee Goldfarb
  • Dr. Kerry Smith
  • Dr. Beth Wilner  

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November 17, 2022 **Please note this is a Thursday

             How Should a Child Rep/GAL in a Domestic Relations Case Interact with DCFS/Juvenile Court

             Speakers:

  • Hon. Robert Balanoff
  • Carol Casey, Child Protection
  • Chantelle Porter, Attorney-at-Law
  • Suzanna Schrader, Child Protection Mediation

 

Office of the Cook County Public Guardian

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 2020 by Circuit Court of Cook County