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What does an Attorney Ad Litem do in a Texas family law case?

Many of you that went through divorces a few years ago are having to go back to court due to your or your ex-spouse having filed for a modification of some portion of your Final Decree of Divorce. Likely it has to do with possession, visitation or access to your child.

What seemed workable a few years ago may no longer be workable now. Maybe you’ve moved, or your ex-spouse did which caused your little boy or girl to be farther away from you. It could also be that you learned that your spouse has moved in with a person that you don’t approve of for whatever reason.

The best case scenario, if you’re the parent who is not the primary conservator of your child, is that your life has improved so much in the years between your divorce and today that you believe you are in a position to be an even bigger part of your child’s life.

Your lawyer even told you back in 2013 or 2014 that if you are consistent in your visitation with your child and make good decisions that someday you may be able to get equal time with your child- or better.

To get to that point, however, you needed to hire a lawyer and file for the modification that we briefly touched on in the initial paragraph to this blog post. You’ve specified the circumstances that have changed so that your judge understands what is different now as compared to a few years ago.

What your judge will have trouble doing is understanding on the ground level just what those changes mean.

This is where an attorney ad litem comes into the picture. An attorney ad litem is a court appointed attorney that will act as the eyes and ears in the judge outside of the courtroom. Keeping in mind that a judge will need to make a decision that is in the best interest of your child, having a better idea about what goes on outside of court can be critical to making a sound decision.

The role of an ad litem attorney in your child custody case

The court can appoint an ad litem attorney on its own motion or on the motion of one or both of the parties. Often times if you feel like your case is particularly strong and you want to expose the judge to the characteristics that you believe are positive for you then you can ask your attorney to file a motion to have an ad litem appointed.

An ad litem attorney will cost money and will cause your case to lengthen most likely. The costs are often split between the parties or divided on the basis of income with the party whose income is greater taking on the higher percentage of the burden of paying the ad litem. A case will take longer with an ad litem because, as we are about to see, the ad litem’s job is conduct a thorough examination of both parties to help ensure the judge makes a decision that is in the best interest of that child.

What does the ad litem attorney actually do in your case?

Set up interviews with you, your ex-spouse and your child. These interviews are probably the most important part of what the ad litem attorney actually does. Learning more about all of you, your attitudes towards your family, your goals for parenting and your general disposition can be invaluable for the judge.

In regard to your child, the ad litem will do their best not to discuss too much of the details with you child but will talk to the child about both you and their other parent. Questions that seem innocent to your child like, “Tell me what activities your mom and dad do with you,” or, “What do you and your mom and dad talk about?” can offer honest and frank assessments of you and your ex-spouse from the perspective of your child.

Collect evidence from doctors, therapists and schools. The attorney ad litem has the power to issue subpoenas to these sort of outside entities that may have information that would be relevant and useful for the court. School records including report cards and disciplinary write ups would go a long way to show how your child was going in school both academically and socially.

Medical records can clear the air in the event that you and your spouse are in disagreement on a medical issue or how one of you handled an emergency health situation.

Make recommendations to the judge. Ultimately the judge has appointed this attorney to act as the ad litem in your case because he or she believes the ad litem to be of a good judge of character and capable to assist in the decision making process.

The judge does not have to request anything in writing from the attorney ad litem but often times reports are made based on the interviews that the ad litem conducted and other experiences he or she had during their time on this case. The ad litem can make recommendations regarding matters related to possession, access, visitation and child support.

Many parties will do whatever they believe is necessary to woo the affections of the ad litem and in some instances I can’t argue that this is a useful tactic. However, I always advise clients with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC to act on behalf of their child in everything they do. If you are putting the interests of your child before your own you will be off to a good start in the eyes of the ad litem attorney as well as the judge in your case.

Questions about the appointment of an ad litem attorney? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

An ad litem attorney can play a vital role in your family lawcase and it is critical to have an family law attorney representing you that understands their role and can work with them in a way that benefits you and your interests. To learn more about the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC and the services that we provide clients with please do not hesitate to contact our office today.


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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.


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