Guardian Ad Litem: The Basics

Posted on: Categories: Family Law

Children are an important part of many family law disputes. Unfortunately, however, they are not able to voice their opinions and preferences in a meaningful way in many circumstances. Even when they do, they may not fully understand or appreciate which plan of action will really be in their best interests over the long term. In addition, parents sometimes cannot separate their own needs and wants from what is best for their children as well. In these situations, using a Guardian Ad Litem is often a good idea.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem is a neutral third-party who is asked to be involved in the case so that the child has another voice in a legal process. Guardian ad litems are often used in family law matters, but they can be used in probate court and other legal situations as well. Anytime a minor or incapacitated person is involved, a guardian ad litem may be used to help that individual assert his or her rights and voice opinions.

A guardian ad litem (GAL) will be tasked with investigating the case by the judge. The judge can either choose to appoint a GAL on his or her own, or any party can request that the court involve a GAL. The GAL’s investigation will determine which course of action will be in the best interests of the child or individual involved.

The GAL will often have the legal authority to obtain sensitive information about your child and your family. He or she can also request expert evaluations of the child or the parents as well. Investigation is the GAL’s key role and the law provides the GAL will a variety of tools to perform this task.

In Florida, the guardian ad litem program is often “manned” by volunteers throughout the state. These volunteers get training and education so that they can be the voice for the child in whatever capacity is necessary.

Recommendations by the Guardian Ad Litem

The court takes recommendations provided by the guardian ad litem very seriously. His or her recommendation to the court will carry significant weight in the judge’s final decision-making process.

The GAL will file a comprehensive report regarding the child and the other results of his or her investigation in the family law court. This report will likely contain sensitive information about your child and your family life. This confidential information is often necessary to make an accurate assessment of the child’s current family life, needs for his or her particular situation, and long-term recommendations.

Getting Legal Help from an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney

The GAL is supposed to be an unbiased third party who works on behalf of your child. Nonetheless, having an attorney assist you with the investigation process can increase the likelihood of having a favorable report. Our team can help you throughout the investigation and beyond. Contact Blair H. Chan, III, PLLC for more information on our family law services.