The Appointment Of A Guardian Ad Litem In A Florida Divorce
Divorces can sometimes be a battle between the spouses, who may have different views on what is in the best interest of their children in terms of the parenting plan the court has to order as part of the divorce. In particularly contentious divorces with children involved, or in divorces where there have been allegations of child abuse or neglect a court may appoint a guardian ad litem.
A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by a court to protect the interests of the children and represent them to the court. The guardian ad litem presents an independent view into what is best for the children after talking to both parents and the children. This independent view is supposed to help the court make the ultimate decision on parental time sharing and parental responsibility. The guardian ad litem works in the best interest of the child but is not an attorney representing the child.
While people who are appointed as guardians ad litem are sometimes court appointed attorneys, they do not have to be attorneys. Social workers, mental health professionals, and other professionals may be appointed as guardians ad litem. It is important for whoever is appointed to build trust with the child involved in order to best represent the child’s needs.
Although a court generally makes the appointment, each parent in the divorce can ask for a guardian ad litem to be appointed in the case. Even when a parent requests the appointment of a guardian ad litem, the parent does not control or oversee the appointed person. The person remains a neutral party solely concerned with the best interests of the child.
In some cases, if necessary, the guardian ad litem can work through an attorney to get a court order to review medical or school records related to the child in order to determine the child’s best interest. If the parents want to contest such a move, they have to argue against it in court.
The parents are generally responsible for paying the fees and costs associated with a guardian ad litem. In some cases, assistance may be provided if the parents are low income. Despite the cost however, in some cases, the cost associated with a guardian ad litem may still be cheaper than litigation over issues relating to the children that may be resolved through the appointment of a guardian ad litem.
When the guardian ad litem has finished his investigation, he makes a recommendation to the court often in form of a written report. The report and the recommendations are not the final word on the issue of what is in the best interest of the child. The judge can follow all the recommendations as presented, or use the recommendations to arrive at a different parenting plan.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
If you are going through a divorce and need more information on the role a guardian ad litem can play in your divorce, contact us at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida, to speak with an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney today.