What happens if abuse or neglect of a child is alleged in a divorce or custody action?
In all cases where abuse and/or neglect of a child is alleged by one or the parties, a Missouri court is required to appoint an attorney to represent the best interests of the child. This attorney is called a Guardian Ad Litem. The Guardian Ad Litem will talk to both parties and the child, visit the homes of both parents, gather medical records, speak to school personnel, social workers, law enforcement, therapists, counselors, and any other relevant parties, and will conduct an investigation into the allegations of abuse or neglect and make recommendations to the court based on the findings. The appointment of a Guardian ad Litem will add significant cost to the case, and the mother and father will be required to pay for the services of the guardian. Despite the costs, a Guardian Ad Litem can be invaluable to the case, and has a great deal of influence on the court's decision.