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2 tips to survive the Guardian Ad Litem's first visit

We've talked before about how a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) can sometimes be important to a child custody case. Parents are often understandably nervous before the GAL's first visit to their home because so much rides on this person's impressions of you and your parenting skills.

Take a moment to review two basic tips for the GAL's first visit:

1. Be prepared.

The GAL is going to ask a lot of questions, so be prepared with the answers. The GAL will likely ask you what your concerns are and why you are in court. Try to keep your explanation clear and direct. For example, if you are trying to stop your ex-spouse from having unsupervised visitation with your children because he or she has bipolar disorder and refuses to take medication, sum it up as concisely as possible.

Follow this information with specific examples of how the problem directly affects your ex-spouse's ability to care for the children. For example, explain how he or she sometimes has problems even getting out of bed, has left the kids unsupervised for hours and has often failed to get them ready for school or make sure that they have clean clothes.

2. Be focused.

Keep in mind that the GAL represents your children's interests, so you don't want to focus on what you ex-spouse did to you. The GAL doesn't want to hear about your marital problems -- just the parenting issues that are at the center of your custody dispute.

It's important not to be too negative about your ex-spouse or engage in name calling. While you're obviously going to have to address your ex-spouse's shortcomings, try to do it factually and without anger. Remember that your ex-spouse is your children's other parent and be as kind as possible while still being honest. If you indulge your anger, the GAL may decide that you're simply bitter over your divorce and trying to use the children to punish your ex-spouse for his or her bad behavior.

If you need more assistance handling a GAL visit, talk to an attorney today. For more information about our firm's approach to child custody issues, please visit our page.

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COATES FREY TANIMOTO & GIBSON, AAL, LLLC
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Pioneer Plaza Suite 1400
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

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