A court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) when there are legal conflicts between spouses or former spouses about children, or when a parent faces neglect or abuse allegations. The GAL represents the court, and their job is to advocate for the children’s best interests.
Cases that require GALs are typically high-conflict and have high stakes. Parents have difficulty controlling their emotions when a case could permanently impact their relationship with their children.
If you are wondering whether you can fire your Guardian ad Litem in Des Peres, the short answer is not usually, and typically only when there are clear violations of the GAL’s duties. Speak with an experienced child custody attorney at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, to find out whether you have grounds to ask the court to remove your GAL and whether seeking their removal is a good strategy.
Working With a GAL Can Be Difficult
Guardian ad Litems are neutral—they represent the court, not either party in the case. They also do not represent the child or children; they are not the children’s attorney. Their only job is to get to know the children and their needs, find out as much as possible about the situation that led the parties to court, and make a recommendation to the judge about which result serves the children’s best interests.
Parents often find working with a GAL challenging; they may inspect your home and ask invasive questions, which may understandably make you feel judged or defensive. They often want to speak to your children privately, which can even cause feelings of distrust. GALs sometimes speak with other relatives, teachers, doctors, therapists, and others, which may make you feel embarrassed and humiliated.
Most GALs take their job seriously and make their best effort to make informed decisions. However, a GAL could allow personal prejudice to affect their demeanor. They are not always as sensitive to a parent’s position as they could be. If you believe your GAL is biased or unprofessional, it is vital to speak with a Des Peres attorney about your concerns. An understanding legal professional from our firm could investigate the situation and provide tips on working productively with a GAL.
Removing a Guardian ad Litem
Missouri Revised Statutes § 452.423 governs the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem. When a court appoints someone to the position, the parties have ten days to object to the appointment and request removal. The parties do not need to state a reason for the request. A court will grant each party one request for removal without cause in each proceeding.
If you did not request removal within ten days of the GAL’s appointment, you could still request the court to replace the GAL. However, you must provide a reason for the request. In most cases, the reason for requesting removal will concern the GAL’s neutrality or a dereliction of duty. You might ask the judge to remove the GAL because the GAL has or had a personal relationship with another party involved in the case or worked on another case involving one of the parties. Lack of attention to a case could also be a valid reason to seek a GAL’s removal.
However, doing so might be unwise. A parent who questions a GAL’s neutrality, attentiveness, or competence should get advice from an attorney serving Des Peres before requesting a change.
Dangers of Requesting the Judge to Remove the GAL
Parents in court litigating disputes often have strong opinions. You might feel that a Guardian ad Litem is biased or incompetent if they do not focus on the issues you think are most important. However, in many cases, the GAL tries to do a thorough investigation and not form an opinion until they have all the relevant facts.
If you ask a court to remove a GAL for cause, the court will likely question you about your concerns and ask the GAL to respond. The GAL can often present a reasonable explanation. If the court keeps the GAL in place, you are in an awkward position going forward.
If you have serious issues with a GAL, a Des Peres attorney from our firm could contact them to share the concerns and try to resolve the matter privately. Requesting a court to remove a GAL without evidence of a clear bias or conflict of interest will delay the case and could reflect poorly on the parent who requests the change.
Discuss ‘Firing’ Your Guardian ad Litem in Des Peres with an Attorney Today
Parents usually have firm ideas about what is best for their children, and it is not unusual for parents to find working with a GAL challenging. While in some instances you can ‘fire’ your Guardian ad Litem in Des Peres, it is usually not the best strategy.
In rare cases, asking the court to remove your GAL might be appropriate. However, before you make any drastic changes or decisions regarding your case, it is wise to consult an experienced attorney about your concerns with the GAL. To learn more about how our compassionate team can help you, contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today.