Child Representative and Guardian Ad Litem for Domestic Relations Cases

In any proceedings involving the support, custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, parentage, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child, the court may, on its own motion or that of any party, appoint an attorney to serve as a guardian ad litem, child representative, and/or an attorney for the child pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/506.

    What is a Guardian ad Litem?

    A guardian ad litem (also known as a “GAL”) is an attorney appointed to investigate the best interest of the child(ren) and make recommendations to the court. The guardian ad litem is required to investigate the facts of the case, interview the child(ren) and the parties, and submit a written recommendation to the court.  The GAL may be called as a witness at trial for purposes of cross-examination regarding the guardian ad litem's report or recommendations. GALs may be present for all court proceedings, issue subpoenas, and file pleadings related to procedural matters. GALs are often referred to as the “eyes and the ears of the court.”

    What is a Child Representative?

    A child representative is an attorney that takes a position and then advocates for the best interest of the child(ren). The child representative has the same authority and obligation to participate in the litigation as does an attorney for a party and shall possess all the powers of investigation as does a guardian ad litem. Child representatives participate in the case by filing pleadings and calling witnesses in a trial.

    What is an Attorney for the Child?

    An attorney for the child provides independent legal counsel for the child and owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client.

    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 parties cannot afford to pay for a child’s attorney, child representative, or GAL, the court may appoint a child representative from the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, which has sliding scale fees, or the court may appoint a pro bono child representative or GAL from the Domestic Relations Division’s approved roster. Court appointments to the Office of 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.

    For more information about the Public Guardian, please visit the Office of the Public Guardian’s website.

    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.

    Attorneys interested in becoming a Domestic Relations Child Representative/Guardian Ad Litem, please go here for further information.