Heather W. Tootle, Attorney & Counselor At Law
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The Law Office of Heather Tootle

3010 Hayden Road
Columbus, Ohio 43235
P: 614-214-9909
F: 614-798-1935

Philosophy & Procedures

A Guardian ad Litem, also known as GAL, is defined by Superintendence Rule 48 as “an individual appointed to assist a court in its determination of a child’s best interest.“ Attorney Tootle has been fighting for the best interest of children as a Guardian ad Litem since 1994 at the Capital Law School Legal Clinic. Ms. Tootle is now a Supreme Court Certified GAL. Attorney Tootle “maintains independence, objectivity, and fairness in dealings with the parties and professionals, both in and out of court” as is required by Superintendence Rule 48.

The best interests of a child are not always the same as what a child wants. This can be one of the tricky parts of being a GAL. If Ms. Tootle is not in agreement with the child’s wishes, she will clearly state the reason why. Children do not always understand that just because one house has more toys, is more fun, and/or they can stay up until midnight on a school night does not mean that is the best place for them to live. The “non-fun parent” might be the parent who makes the child do their homework every night and teaches the child the value of being well rested for school. Just as every family is different, every case is different. As a GAL, Attorney Tootle knows that knowledge is power. Knowledge of the families’ unique parenting style is essential to help children in a custody dispute to start a new chapter in their lives in the healthiest way possible.

Ms. Tootle works hard to become informed about the case by contacting all parties involved. Attorney Tootle often meets with each party individually first. Then, Ms. Tootle meets with each party and the child together. Then Ms. Tootle will frequently meet each child individually. Ms. Tootle visits each party’s home. Sometimes, Ms. Tootle will make a surprise visit to each party’s home. Ms. Tootle reviews school and medical records. She speaks to the parties’ neighbors, other family members, babysitters, daycare providers, teachers, coaches, children’s services workers, physicians, counselors, and any other person who need be consulted to get a complete picture of the child’s life in each home.

Even though Ms. Tootle makes every effort to get as much information as possible to make a well informed recommendation; she is not insensitive to the parties’ situation during the course of an investigation. Therefore, Ms. Tootle is always courteous and respectful during her fact finding process. She is openly willing to assist parties in reaching an agreement on some, or all issues, regarding their children. As a domestic attorney GAL, Ms. Tootle has the drafting skills necessary to prepare very detailed parenting time schedules appropriate for the specific lives of the families involved.

As a mother of her own boy and girl, Ms. Tootle relates well with children and treats the children with respect and great empathy. After 15 years in domestic law, Attorney Tootle understands how difficult a divorce can be on the children.