One of the main differences in a Baraboo divorce or Baraboo child custody dispute as opposed to other counties is the role of the guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem (GAL) is a lawyer appointed to represent a child’s best interest when the parents cannot agree. Some larger counties, such as Dane County, have specific court counseling services that conduct investigations into the best custody and physical placement options in divorce or custody disputes. The guardian ad litem participates in this study, but much of the investigation is often done by the social worker. The Sauk County divorce court, in a less populated county, does not have this service. Therefore, the GAL takes a more active investigative role from the beginning. It is important that your Baraboo divorce lawyer maintain a good working relationship with the GAL. This way, the GAL will have all the necessary information to make the best recommendation for your child.
Expert child development witnesses (counselors, therapists, social workers, etc.) are more common in Dane County than in Baraboo divorce or Baraboo child custody matters. These professionals may testify about their interaction with the children, evaluation of the parent’s or child’s mental health, and their opinion on the best outcome for the child’s custody. Child experts are of course permitted to testify in a Baraboo divorce custody dispute as well, but it is less common.
In my experience, that may be due to the simple fact that there are far less mental health/child development professionals in Sauk County than Dane County. Therefore, it is less common that the child or parents have a relationship with the professional that predates the divorce. Therapist and counselors also usually dislike testifying in court about their patients. Because Sauk County’s population is smaller than Dane County, there are simply fewer professionals willing to do so.
However, when child custody or safety is an issue, you should not hesitate to involve a mental health professional. I represent many clients in Baraboo divorce matters that involve mental health experts and testimony, and I am well-versed in the proper means of preparation and questioning of these valuable resources. I am happy to provide free consultations to Baraboo divorce or child custody clients to assist with these difficult matters.