The Benefits of a Well-Trained Guardian ad Litem in Your Contested Child Custody Case

January 10, 2023 | J. Benjamin Stevens | Share:

close up of a question: guardian ad litem: do you know about it? typed on a piece of white paper with yes and no check boxes with a pen hovering over the yes check box.The month of January is often thought of as “divorce month,” with many people, especially parents, waiting until the holidays are behind them before filing for divorce. Given the number of divorces that typically begin during the first couple of months of the new year, it’s no wonder January is also when the SC Bar schedules its annual Guardian ad Litem training seminar. This seminar is the best way for Guardians to remain “certified” and up to date with their required training hours in order to accept new appointments from the Family Court.

When it comes to contested child custody cases, having a well-trained guardian ad litem (GAL) assigned to your case is an absolute must. A GAL is an individual appointed by the court who acts as an advocate for the best interest of the children involved in the case. In South Carolina, GALs are required to be trained and certified, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to properly represent their young clients in court. Let’s take a closer look at why this training is so important.


The Role of a Guardian ad Litem

A guardian ad litem’s primary role is to investigate each party’s claims, as well as any other issues that may arise during the litigation related to the children’s best interests, in order to provide helpful recommendations to the court about what would be best for the children involved in the custody dispute. This typically means that a GAL will interview both parents, speak with other family members who have knowledge relevant to the contested issues, conduct home visits at each home, review medical records and/or school records, and take any other action deemed necessary by the court to fulfill their role. It also means that they must possess the skills necessary to develop informed opinions about what is in a child’s best interests in order to present detailed reports to the Court that are supported by the evidence in the case. This is why GAL training is so important – it teaches essential investigative and reporting skills necessary for proper advocacy in the court. It also gives GALs an understanding of how their opinions, reports, and suggestions to the Court will impact those involved in the custody dispute.


Benefits of Training  

After nearly thirty years of practice and handling hundreds, if not thousands, of contested child custody cases, I can say with certainty that every child custody case is different from the next. There may be generally the same types of issues that arise, but the facts, evidence, and variables that must be considered to determine the best interests of every individual child can vary widely. A well-trained Guardian is absolutely critical to ensure each child and every family receives a fair and independent investigation to determine what is best for their family. Having a well-trained, highly qualified attorney GAL appointed to your case means your child’s best interests have the best chance of being properly investigated and accurately presented to the Court without the GAL simply rubber-stamping one parent’s wishes over the other or using a cut-and-paste approach to their presentation of issues to the Court.


Registration is Now Open for the 2023 SC Bar Guardian ad Litem Training

If you are an attorney interested in doing Guardian ad Litem work in Family Court cases, or you’re already an attorney who regularly does family court GAL work and you need your yearly training hours, registration is now open for the annual training sponsored by the SC Bar. This training is planned and moderated by Jenny R. Stevens, and it will be held on Friday, January 27, 2023, in Columbia, SC, as well as in several webcast locations around the state. This year’s agenda features a stellar line-up of highly experienced speakers presenting on topics that are some of the most challenging issues encountered by GALs in their cases. More information, including the link to register, can be found by clicking here.


Final Thoughts

When facing a contested child custody dispute, it is important to have an attorney on your side who understands both your needs as well as those of your children. However, when it’s determined by the Court that your case also requires the services of a Guardian ad Litem, having a well-trained GAL assigned to your case will give you some peace of mind knowing that you have an experienced professional advocating on behalf of your children. As an attorney, I routinely request that the Court only appoint experienced GALs to my clients’ cases who have completed this type of regular training to help ensure their cases are handled in the best way possible throughout the process.

If you’re struggling with issues surrounding child custody or need help finding the best ways to build a cooperative parenting agreement with your co-parent, talking with an experienced family court attorney will help. If you’re in South Carolina, contact a trusted family law attorney like Ben Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state.

Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, or other family law case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or to schedule a consultation.


Source Link: SC Bar Annual Guardian ad Litem Training Seminar


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Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or to schedule an initial consultation.



Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina.  His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.

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