Interaction Tips For Dealing With A Guardian Ad Litem As You Proceed With a Divorce…

Following these suggestions when dealing with a guardian ad litem will maximize your chance of making a positive impression and get you a step closer to obtaining your goal.

What Can A Guardian Ad Litem Do In Florida?

Appointment of a GAL by the court is required in certain cases. A guardian ad litem shall be appointed by a judge to represent the best interest of children. Both parents will meet with the GAR and the parents can also have witnesses such as teachers, coaches, counselors, and other people having information about the children. The GAR will review school records, medical records, counseling records, and additional info. Other than a judge, the GAL has the most influence on the outcome of your child visitation case. The GAL will recommend custody and visitation to the court. The judge generally gives an incredible amount of weight to the recommendation of the GAL and the outcome of your case will depend largely upon the recommendations of the GAL. Bring a pen, paper, and take notes. The GAL will ask for documents, and information and will make suggestions of things you should do. Taking notes shows you know this is serious and will help you to not forget anything.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

The reason why honesty really is the best policy has everything to do with intentions. When you’re honest, your intentions are clear. People trust honest people more since they say it as it is. It’s generally easy to be someone who you’re not and honesty promotes authenticity and vulnerability. This is never truer than when dealing with a GAL and a judge in court. If you and your spouse are saying different things, the GAL has to get to the bottom of what is going on. The more credible you are, the greater the odds are the GAL will think your version of the event is accurate. The tip is never to make allegations that you cannot easily prove. One of the quickest ways to lose credibility is to make an allegation you cannot prove. If you cannot back it up, do not say it.

Bring Along A List Of Witnesses You’d Like The GAL To Speak To

Give the GAL the name, address, and phone number of each person you’d like to use a witness. These can include friends, family members, teachers, counselors, coaches, clergy, etc. Make it easy for the GAL to contact these people. The tip is to tell the GAL with a summary of what each of their witnesses can say to help you. You want to tell the GAL why the witness should talk to them and what each person will say. Do not make the GAL guess or dig for information. Make very clear what it is that you want the GAL to listen to.

Bring Any Photos Or Documents That You Would Like The GAL To Review

Bring along a list of any photos or documents that you would like the GAL to review. This can include emails, text messages, photos, school records, medical records, etc. Do not bring too many as you do not want to bury the GAL in hundreds of documents. Have enough stuff to make your point, but do not overdo it. The tip is to have a good family attorney review your witnesses and documents before you give them to the GAL.

When Speaking With The GAL, Talk About Your Children And How You Are Involved In Their Lives

At a minimum, you should know the children’s birthdate, favorite color, favorite food, activities, hobbies, favorite TV program, the names of their teachers and coaches, etc… These details will make a lasting impression on the GAL. Make notes to take with you as it is easy to forget the small details. Do not talk about how horrible the other parent is or about what you hope to achieve in the custody or visitation. Keep your children as the topic.

Make Sure You Are Parenting

It is important to let the GAL know that you are not delegating the parenting to your spouse. Attend parent-teacher conferences, sports games and practices, school functions, and talk to the child’s teacher. Make sure the teacher knows you and is in contact with you. The tip is to give the teacher your email address and get their email address – most teachers will give you their information. Even if you have a rigid work schedule, email makes it easy to stay in touch. You want the teacher, coaches, and counselors to know you because the GAL will probably talk to all of them. The worst scenario is for the GAL to call the teacher, coaches, or counselors and discover that they have never met you and have only had contact with your spouse.

Meeting A GAL Is Like A Job Interview

Always be polite. You are applying for the job of a custodial parent- first impressions matter. The tip is to have good body language. Good posture shows you’re engaged and paying attention. Additionally, a slight lean forward conveys genuine interest. Smile. A warm, genuine smile makes everyone feel more comfortable, particularly at the beginning and end of an interview. Also, dress appropriately for an interview, if you do not dress appropriately, you give the impression that you lack respect for yourself and those you are meeting with. Also, when you are talking about the children never say, my child. Always say our daughter/son. This is a big one for GALs and judges – they hate the MY child scenario. Following this simple rule demonstrates you are willing to co-parent.

Being Cooperative And Easy To Work With Will Go A Long Way

Demonstrate that you are willing to co-parent. The GAL will be looking to see if one or both parents are willing to co-parent. Whether you are seeking sole custody or joint custody, this makes perfect sense. If the GAL believes joint custody will not work, the recommendation will probably be that one parent is awarded custody. That parent will probably be the one who has put the most effort into co-parenting. The GAL will believe that parent is most likely to be fair, make decisions in the best interest of the child, and make the child available to the other parent.

The outcome of your case will depend largely upon the recommendations of the GAL. Whether the case is settled or goes to trial, the GAL will play an essential role in the outcome. Follow the tips above and ask questions, and you will create a situation where the GAL wants to help you and give you the best chance of success.

We Can Help You Navigate and Work With the Guardian Ad Litem

It is easy to see how some parents may not be able to properly judge what is best for the child(ren) as they are proceeding with a divorce. While neglecting a child’s best interest may not be intentional, the court has a system in place to ensure a child’s welfare is always protected. The court can appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to determine the child’s best interest.
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Contact (954-451-0050) Akilah Harris, PLLC for a Consultation!

Are you going through a divorce or trying to retain custody of your child? Do you need help with Estate Planning? Maybe you need help with something else that involves your family? At Akilah Harris PLLC., we understand that family law cases are uniquely stressful and often take a heavy emotional toll on families. Our family law offices in Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale Flordia offer compassionate and thorough legal counsel to our clients. Consult with us when you need to protect your finances, assets, and time with your child. In these highly personal disputes, you need to rely on an experienced Broward County Attorney who knows how to defend your rights.