Divorce is always a complicated time for any family. If a child custody or divorce case is particularly contested, the Florida Court could become involved if they feel that a child's best interests could be compromised by the disagreement between the parents. In this article we'll break down what a guardian ad litem is and their role when it comes to child custody cases in Florida.
If you are in the process of child custody case that is particularly argumentative and interested in learning more about what a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is and how it could benefit your child(ren), then keep scrolling.
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
Guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney appointed by judges to advocate for the child(ren)'s best interest. The key role of a GAL is to investigate a case, report its findings, and recommendations to the court. The GAL is not an attorney for the child but rather an appointed representative who is tasked with acting as the “next friend of the child” under Florida law.
What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?
A GAL will be appointed when the court has reasonable grounds to suspect the child's safety may be jeopardized by the parents. In many instances when there are serious allegations of abuse, neglect, or issues relating to the child's well-being, the court will appoint the GAL to begin an investigation.
The key role of a guardian ad litem is to serve as an investigator on behalf of the court while determining what is in the best interest of the child. They will address issues such as relocation, parental responsibility or decision making, and/or time-sharing. The guardian will conduct interviews with the parents, speak with the child directly, the child's teacher, therapist, doctors, and other important people in the child's life. Home visits are also to be expected during the investigation.
GAL's role in Court
It is important to understand that the Guardian Ad Litem plays an important role and has a great influence on what happens in the case. Florida family law court judges will take the recommendations of the GAL very seriously and serves as the “eyes and ears” of the court. The GAL will also have access to sensitive information about the child(ren) and the case. However, the GAL is not a judge. Therefore, the GAL does not make the final decision in any child custody or child visitation case. Florida courts will not assign decisions to a guardian ad litem and the final say in the child custody or visitation case always resides with the judge.
If you are experiencing a contentious divorce or child custody battle, it is crucial to get reliable and knowledgeable legal advice as soon as possible. Any time the legal system is involved within the domestic sphere, it can produce higher anxiety to the members of that household. Our skilled attorneys at Family Matters Law Group take each case individually and provide their clients with the patience and understanding necessary to properly handle their individual needs and goals and provide tailored solutions to that individual family's legal and emotional needs. Get in touch if you are worried that your child custody case could turn aggressive to discuss what legal course may be the best option for you and your family.