Understanding the Role of a Guardian Ad Litem
You may have heard the term Guardian ad Litem and wondered what it means, or you may have been assigned one for your child never having heard the term before. Basically, a Guardian ad Litem is a person who helps a child in a difficult divorce, custody situation, or other situations when a child needs a voice in court. They are not a lawyer for the child (although they may be an attorney), but they can testify on the child’s behalf.
Does My Child Need a Guardian ad Litem?
If you are going through a divorce that is exceptionally difficult or you believe your child’s opinions should be heard, you may want to talk to your attorney about having one assigned. Sometimes the court recognizes a difficult situation and appoints one for your child. The child’s mental and physical wellbeing is most important. Input from a Guardian ad Litem helps the courts determine what is really in the child’s best interests rather than listening to the he said, she said that may sometimes be part of a contentious divorce.
How Does the Process Work?
Although every situation is different, most of the time, the appointed Guardian ad Litem will meet with both parents, the child and any other people involved significantly in the child’s life. There may be home visits or visits to the child’s school. The goal is to ensure the child’s safety, health and wellbeing are protected in the home, whether the home is with the father or mother. The Guardian ad Litem will have access to medical, school and Child Protective Services records as part of their case study. In the end, they will provide a non-biased review of what they believe to be in the best interest of the child.
Can I Trust this Person Alone with My Child?
This person assigned to your child has been thoroughly background checked. This includes criminal and employment history, reference checks and fingerprinting. This is referred to as a Level 2 background check in Florida. It is done to help ensure that your child is safe if they are alone with him or her. Because this is a paid position, they are also subject to reviews by their supervisors.
If you are divorcing and feel that your child’s voice should be heard in the matter, ask your attorney about having a Guardian ad Litem assigned. If you are in need of child custody assistance or a divorce attorney, call Wagstaff Law Office. We have experience in all aspects of family law and can help you. Call (727) 584-8182 today to schedule an appointment.