When my husband and I could not agree on custody for our three boys, the judge appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to investigate and make recommendations on the best plan for them for legal custody, physical custody, educational decisions and communication issues. Yesterday we got the report. She made some very good recommendations.
We share legal custody but I get to make educational decisions after consulting him, I have physical custody — he has dinner on Wednesday nights and every other weekend from Friday night to Sunday night, and we have to use Our Family Wizard to communicate.
When do the recommendations take effect? My husband was also ordered to go to therapy and I want that to start immediately.
Take a breath and slow down. Just because a Guardian Ad Litem makes a recommendation does not make it the law of your case. It does not mean the recommendations will happen now or ever, they are just that, recommendations.
Depending on the judge who appointed the GAL, you can expect one of two things to happen, either the judge will consider making a temporary order implementing the recommendations on a temporary basis, or the judge could choose not to even read the GAL report until the GAL is on the stand testifying at the time of trial at which time he or she is subject to cross examination.
If you want the judge to now adopt the recommendations, you need to file a motion asking the judge to implement the recommendations on a temporary basis. If there are already temporary orders in place regarding parenting, the judge may choose not to modify the existing temporary orders. So, if orders are in place, be prepared to argue to the judge why the children need a change now rather than at the conclusion of the case. If the current temporary order is not working, be ready to tell the judge what is not working about it and how the GAL recommendations would likely work better.
Before you file your motion, if there is a pre-trial conference coming up, use the GAL report and recommendations during your mandatory settlement meeting. See what your husband will agree to. It may be you do not have to go to court for a motion hearing if you can agree on certain terms. If he agrees to some and rejects some, you can always agree to immediately implement the agreed upon recommendations and ask the judge to weigh in on the rest either by motion or at the pre-trial conference. Failing any agreements, you can ask the judge to make the recommendations permanent at a trial.