What Is a Guardian Ad Litem, and Do We Need One?
No aspect of divorce is ever easy, but the most difficult aspect – as our family law attorneys know all too well – is determining custody arrangements. While each parent only wants what is best for their child, ill feelings towards one another make it difficult to proceed with a level head. It can be hard for divorcing parents to keep their child’s best interests in mind when all they can think about is how the other parent did them wrong. As the divorce conflict heats up, it becomes difficult for the battling parents to judge what is best for their child. It is at this point – when neither parent can make a decision without the intention of hurting the other – that a guardian ad litem steps in.
What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?
A guardian ad litem – or GAL for short – is typically a court-appointed attorney or social worker whose job it is to investigate both parties and make a decision based off of the information they gather through their investigations. A GAL makes decisions regarding everything from parenting roles (i.e. who gets to be custodial parent) to the amount of parenting time each parent will receive. The person assigned to the case is always a neutral third party, and works solely to determine what is in the best interests of the child.
Each parent has an attorney to advocate for them; however, because the child is an affected party of divorce as well, and because they cannot speak up for themselves regarding their wishes, a GAL acts as an advocate for them. As an advocate for the child of divorce, a GAL will conduct interviews with the divorcing couple, the child, and anyone else close to all parties who might have important insight as to the relationship the child has with each parent. From these interviews, the GAL will form an opinion regarding what is in the best interests of the child, and submit a recommendation to the courts. While the courts will not rely solely on the guardian ad litem’s recommendations, they will weigh them heavily before making a final decision.
How Can a Guardian Ad Litem Help My Case?
If you and your former spouse cannot come up with a custody arrangement upon which you can both agree, and if the fighting gets to be out of control, a guardian ad litem can step in and bring the focus back to your child. A GAL can also reduce court costs, as they allow you to avoid litigation in front of a judge.
Consult with a Boca Raton Custody Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our experienced custody lawyers can help you and your former spouse come up with the best custody arrangement for your child. With over 50 years of experience mediating and litigating custody disputes, our attorneys are adept in helping clients settle their differences and come up with solutions that benefit everyone. To schedule a consultation with a guardian ad litem, contact our Boca Raton law offices at 561.391.9943 or online today.