If you have decided to end your marriage, you know how stressful the process can be. After all, not only must you distribute marital property, but you must also adjust to a new way of life. If you have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you face an additional hurdle. That is, you must address child custody issues.
In Wisconsin, child custody typically involves three topics. First, you must determine who has legal custody of the kids. Second, you must address physical placement of each child. Finally, you must work out child support. If you disagree on any of these matters, a judge is likely to order mediation. If that does not work, the court will probably appoint a guardian ad litem to assist with settling important matters.
Guardian ad litem
Literally meaning, “for the purpose of litigation,” a guardian ad litem represents the best interests of the kids. The individual, a licensed attorney in the Badger State, performs an investigation. This investigation attempts to uncover the best outcome for your children during and after your divorce. You and your spouse probably must pay for the guardian ad litem’s time and the cost of the investigation.
You and your spouse may have fundamental disagreements about legal custody, physical placement or both. If mediation does not resolve the conflict, a judge is apt to appoint a guardian ad litem. If you have a good reason for not having a judge appoint one, you can seek to waive this requirement. Nonetheless, if the court has evidence of abuse, neglect or other special circumstances, the appointment of a guardian ad litem is virtually certain.
Following his or her investigation, the guardian ad litem submits a report to the judge, to you and to your spouse. You can use this information to settle the custody dispute. If that does not work, the judge is likely to hold a hearing to resolve the matter and issue a final order.
Because a guardian ad litem may bring some uncertainty to your custody dispute, you may want to work diligently to reach an acceptable agreement with your soon-to-be ex-partner. Nevertheless, by understanding the role a guardian ad litem plays, you can better plan for working with an appointed one.