In a high-conflict divorce or child custody case, a Florida court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to help investigate the dispute and ensure that a child’s best interests are fully protected. If you are interested in having a guardian ad litem appointed in your case, it is important to understand the role of a guardian ad litem in a family law case. The investigation report and recommendations are based on the best interest of the child. Every GAL has had education, training, and experience in regard to the needs of children.
When Will A Judge Appoint A GAL?
In family court, the judge may appoint a GAL on its own initiative, upon request by a party in the case, or based on an agreement made by the parties in the case. A GAL may be automatically appointed for a child involved in cases involving dependency, abuse, or neglect. The specific reasons for the appointment are usually listed in the order appointing the GAL.
How Long Will The Guardian Ad Litem Be Involved In The Divorce Case?
A guardian ad litem has a law degree and additional specialized training and will be involved as long as it takes to complete their investigation. The GAL will be present at all court hearings and will respond to any motions and appeals which affect the interest of the child. Usually, the GAL stays on the case until the final hearing. The GAL may also be required to monitor the case for a time afterward to make sure both parties are complying with the court order made by the judge.
How To Best Work With A Guardian Ad Litem
In many divorce and family law cases, the presence of a guardian ad litem can be very important. To have the process go as smoothly as possible, consider the following suggestions:
- Follow the guardian ad litem’s instructions: One must comply with anything the guardian ad litem asks. The GAL may request that the parents undergo psychological evaluations, parental fitness evaluations, and even drug screens. It is important to cooperate.
- Communication and cooperation are key when it comes to working with the GAL: It is best to keep a good relationship between you and the GAL. Be polite and civil. Presenting a good persona in court makes for a more positive environment for everyone.
- Respect the Guardian ad Litem’s recommendations and perspectives: Everything that the guardian ad litem would consider in court should always be taken seriously. The GAL may ask for school records, medical records, pay stubs, therapy records, and criminal records. Be cooperative, as you may have to sign a release so the GAL can obtain this information.
- Keep your home clean and suitable for a child to live: The GAL will probably make a home visit and it may be unannounced. Just be yourself as the GAL will be able to tell if you are putting on a show. You will have a right to see any of the documents that a GAL uses to write his recommendations. Request those documents in writing before the hearing.
Akilah Harris Can Help When a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Is Needed
It is easy to see how some parents may not be able to properly judge what is best for the child(ren). 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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Just remember the GAL can have a great deal of influence on what happens with visitation and child custody. They are not the judge, however. They just report findings and give recommendations for the child’s welfare and best interest to the judge.
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.