What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”


Divorce can be a difficult process that is made even more difficult when children are added into the mix. It is important for parents to look out for the best interests of their child, but sometimes the best interests of the child can get pushed to the wayside in the middle of a heated custody battle. This is where the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program comes into the picture. The GAL program is meant to “serve the best interests of thousands of children by assigning them guardian ad Litem volunteers.” The GAL program is in every county throughout North Carolina and strives to give each child a voice and the attention they need in the midst of a court case. A GAL can be used in other court cases besides divorce and custody disputes, but the focus of this discussion will be in custody agreements.


child-playing-with-toy-car-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Child-Custody-Attorney-300x201The Role of a GAL


As stated above, the purpose of the GAL is to look out for the best interest of the child in a court case. The “best interests of the child” may seem vague, but there are many tactics and methods GALs employ to actually look out for the child:


  • Conducting an Investigation: One of the most common actions of a GAL is to conduct an independent investigation. The investigation is done by interviewing parents, grandparents, other family members, friends, caregivers, and anyone else that is close to the child and could give insight to the happenings in the child’s life. The GAL will also talk to the child and find out their opinion and feelings on the situation. The investigation is attempting to discover what the best course of action would be for the child.
  • Report their findings to the judge: The GAL will make a report of their investigation and give their recommendation for a course of action to the judge assigned to the case. The judge is by no means obligated to follow the GAL’s recommendation, but the judge will likely value the GAL’s opinion after putting a lot of effort into the report.
  • Words with agencies: In addition to investigating the child’s life, the GAL will make sure that the child has the appropriate resources they need. If there is another agency that can help the child, the GAL will work to get the child the help and resources they need.
  • Monitor the child: The GAL is also concerned with monitoring the child after a court order is made. The GAL will make sure that the orders of the court are being complied with and that if the family needs any more help, that they get the help that is needed.


If you are in the process of a heated custody battle, or a GAL has been appointed to your case, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are here to help you. We know that the bond between a parent and a child is very strong and no parent wants to lose custody. Our attorneys work diligently to get the best result under the circumstances, taking into account the best interest of the child. Contact us today for a consultation. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or our new office in Monroe (by appointment only until spring 2019), please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.







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