Why Would a Guardian Ad Litem Be Appointed in a Florida Divorce?
If you’ve never heard the term before, a guardian ad litem is someone appointed by the courts in Florida who will act as your child’s protector and serve as their voice for any court hearings and/or when dealing with social services. The main reason a guardian ad litem, or GAL, may be appointed in a divorce is when the parents cannot agree on what is best for their child.
In a divorce situation where there is a need to appoint a GAL, the parents are usually the ones who foot the bill. In most cases, it’s a volunteer who takes on this role, so it’s important to have one appointed who is someone you trust. At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our Boca Raton guardian ad litem attorneys work closely with some of the best volunteers in the state.
Responsibilities and Rights of a Guardian ad Litem
As mentioned above, a guardian ad litem’s role is to be the representative for your child and keep his or her best interests in mind. They typically determine what is best for the child and then proceed to act as their representative and work towards the desired outcome. Determining what is best for the child is done through face-to-face meetings and hearings. The GAL is typically asked to prepare their recommendations to the court based on evidence they gathered during the investigation.
In order to properly conduct an investigation, the guardian ad litem has certain rights, which include:
- They can interview anyone who has information related to the child and his or her well-being. This can include the child him or herself as well as witnesses. Commonly interviewed people can include doctors, teachers, family members, police, neighbors, and/or counselors.
- With the court’s permission, they can access the child’s medical records.
- They can also request the court issue an order that would require the parents and/or the child to undergo a medical examination done by an expert.
What Information is the Court Looking to Get from the Guardian ad Litem?
In a divorce case, the court will be looking at the guardian ad litem to make a recommendation on a variety of topics related to the child. These can include living arrangements, custody, schooling, visitation, and any other important aspects of the child’s daily life.
Times the Court May Appoint a Guardian ad Litem on Its Own
There are other scenarios where a court may determine it’s important to have a guardian ad litem appointed even if the parents are able to come to an agreement on how to handle custody and related topics.
Situations that will often trigger the appointment of a guardian ad litem include:
- One or both parents are suspected of abusing the child;
- The child has a clear attachment to only one parent;
- One or both parents are suspected of abusing alcohol or a controlled substance; or
- The child is displaying outbursts consistent with at-risk behavior, or is truant, or delinquent.
Contact a Florida Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about how guardian ad litem appointments work in Florida, contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White today at 561-391-9943 to schedule a consultation.