When you are in the middle of a divorce and there are children involved, you may be surprised by the number of lawyers that get involved with your case just for the children's interests. Since family courts want to both protect your kids and make sure they are able to see both parents, they may go about it a couple of different ways. Here are three types of "child lawyers" that the courts may assign to your divorce, why they are present, and why it is important to understand the differences among all three.

The GAL, or Guardian Ad Litem

When your children are still too young to speak for themselves in court, the court appoints a GAL, or Guardian Ad Litem to represent your kids. The children themselves are not allowed in court in order to prevent any traumatic exposure to adult fights or language, so the GAL is there to speak on their behalf. The GAL is also supposed to investigate both parents, their homes, their parenting styles and practices and parents' overall fitness as parents. What the GAL finds he or she reports back to the courts and makes recommendations based on his or her findings.

The Juvenile Court Lawyer

In nasty, messy divorces where one parent accuses another of child abuse and/or neglect, or there were actual findings to support an outsider's accusation of child abuse/neglect, you may encounter a juvenile court lawyer. This lawyer differs from the GAL in that the juvenile court lawyer makes recommendations for family therapy or the intervention of human services to protect the children involved and help the accused parents become better parents. If the situation appears to be particularly dire, the juvenile court lawyer may also recommend that the children be permanently removed from the home and/or placed in foster care until they are adopted.

The Juvenile Offender Lawyer

While this is a rare occurrence, some families may have this third type of "child lawyer" involved in their divorce cases. Usually, when these lawyers are needed, a preteen or adolescent is out of control or committing violent crimes before, during and/or after the divorce. The juvenile offender lawyer gets involved to not only defend the minor, but also to help the courts decide which home of which parent is best suited to handling your juvenile offender. If neither you nor your ex-spouse can be at home and monitor your child effectively, then your child may need to spend some time in a juvenile detention center or group home until he or she has his or her life straightened out. (Depending on the state in which your divorce occurs, you may also have to surrender some or all of your rights to get your child the help he or she needs.) Contact a law firm, such as the Madison Law Firm PLLC, for more information.