The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem in a Florida Custody Case

Child custody/time sharing cases can bring the worst out of parents since not all know how to handle the stress and emotions that come with them. It is not uncommon for parents to focus on proving to one another who the better parent is to the extent of forgetting to put their children’s needs and interests first. Parents must always keep their children’s best interests in mind during custody disputes. When parents instead choose to turn the situation into a battle, the judge might appoint a representative to help report to the court the child’s best interests. 

Who is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A Guardian Ad Litem is the representative the court appoints to help protect a child’s best interests. According to Florida Statute 61.401, a Guardian Ad Litem is usually assigned so they can act as a “next friend of the child.” According to the law, the representative is not appointed as an advocate or attorney. They are an investigator or evaluator. This representative is also a neutral party that works for neither of the parties involved in a custody dispute.

The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

According to Florida Statute 61.403, a Guardian Ad Litem may, among many other things;

  • meet and interview both parents.
  • directly interview children and any other relevant individuals such as teachers.
  • request the court to order parents, child/ren, or any other parties to undergo expert examinations by doctors or other healthcare providers, including mental health professionals. 
  • obtain unbiased expert examinations.
  • provide an oral or written recommendation to the court.

During their investigation, a Guardian Ad Litem might look at several things. Every Guardian Ad Litem has their unique way of investigating matters. However, below are some of the things a Guardian Ad Litem might look into;

  • People that children spend most of their time with.
  • The parenting style of parents.
  • A history of the relationship between parents.
  • Relevant files/documents.

Once done with the investigation, the Guardian Ad Litem presents a report to the court.

A Guardian Ad Litem conducts a detailed investigation, and their report and recommendations can impact a case’s outcome. During the investigation, a Guardian Ad Litem acquires sensitive and useful information, and that is why a judge would take the recommendations from such a representative seriously. Consequently, it is vital that when dealing with a Guardian Ad Litem, you try your best to cooperate and maintain a positive relationship with them. It may be uncomfortable, angering, or scary, but you need to remember that, above all, it is necessary for your child’s sake. Generally, remain open-minded throughout the investigation process.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to note that even though a Guardian Ad Litem can provide useful recommendations to the court, they cannot make the final decision. Only judges make the final decisions.

Contact a Qualified Child Custody Attorney

To receive help with a custody dispute, contact our qualified child custody attorneys at the Tampa Bay Legal Center, P.A., today.

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At Tampa Bay Legal Center, P.A., we care about our clients and about helping them resolve the legal issues they face in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Our law firm is led by attorney Carl J. Ohall who, for more than 25 years, has helped people throughout the Tampa area overcome legal challenges that affect their families, finances & health.

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