The functions of a Guardian Ad Litem and Custody Evaluator vary as follows:
a Guardian ad Litem investigates the child’s situation and circumstance, interviews the parents and those familiar to the parents and child such as teachers, extended family, and perhaps counselors involved with the parents or children. Then the GAL is called upon to provide a report of their investigation and factual findings. From these findings, the Guardian ad Litem recommends a residential schedule based upon the application of RCW 26.09.184 (noted above). They are to be an advocate for the child, and represent the best interests of the child.
How to view a GAL:
party to the action
fact gatherer for court
reports findings to the court and recommends residential schedule
A Parenting Evaluator does not represent the child, but investigates the parents and child. They may perform certain psychological testing or have another certified professional provide such testing.
How to view a Parenting Evaluator:
expert on child's wellbeing
makes behavioral interpretation and recommendations for residential schedule
identifies each parent’s relative parenting strengths and weaknesses and the integration of these competencies and deficiencies to the psychological and developmental needs of the child.
in applying this information, Parenting Evaluators will often also recommend therapeutic resources to either or both parents and/or the child to aid in developing healthier family systems.