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What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

November 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

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In a divorce case or a case involving the creation, approval, or modification of a custody, time-sharing or parenting plan the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator (but not as an attorney or advocate) if it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to do so.  The court can also appoint legal counsel for a child, an attorney ad litem, however the guardian ad litem and attorney ad litem can not be the same person.  A guardian ad litem is meant to investigate and evaluate for the child(ren).  A guardian ad litem usually has the ability through court order to obtain records they may want regarding the child and otherwise collect information so that they can then make recommendations to the court.

To be qualified a guardian ad litem must be certified by the Guardian Ad Litem Program pursuant to s. 39.821, certified by a not-for-profit legal aid organization as defined in s. 68.096; or a Florida attorney in good standing.

Once appointed a guardian ad litem may investigate the allegations of the pleadings affecting the child, and after proper notice to interested parties and subject to any conditions set by the court, may interview the child, witnesses, or any other person having information concerning the welfare of the child.  A guardian ad litem may petition the court (through counsel) for an order which directs that the guardian ad litem be allowed to inspect and copy any records and documents which relate to the minor child or to the child’s parents or other custodial persons or household members.  A guardian ad litem may request the court (through counsel) to order expert examinations of the child, the child’s parents, or other interested parties by medical doctors, dentists, and other providers of health care including psychiatrists, psychologists, or other mental health professionals.  A guardian ad litem may also assist the court in obtaining impartial expert examinations.

A guardian ad litem may address the court and make written or oral recommendations to the court. The guardian ad litem shall file a written report which may include recommendations and a statement of the wishes of the child. The report must be filed and served on all parties at least 20 days before the hearing at which it will be presented unless the court waives the time limit. The guardian ad litem must be provided with copies of all pleadings, notices, and other documents filed in the action and is entitled to reasonable notice before any action affecting the child is taken.

A guardian ad litem acting through counsel may file pleadings, motions, or petitions in furtherance of the guardian’s function. The guardian ad litem is also entitled to be present and to participate through counsel in all depositions, hearings, and other proceedings in the action, and may compel the attendance of witnesses through counsel.

Attorney Kira Willig has served as a guardian ad litem on numerous occasions.  We have also represented  parties in cases where a guardian ad litem has been appointed on many occasions.  If you have questions about a custody case or a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your case and you have questions you are welcome to contact tour office to set up a consultation.

 

 

 

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Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Robert Hanreck, P.A. is based in Miami , Florida and serves clients throughout the State including Miami-Dade and Broward counties. We are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida. This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal advice, or solicit clients outside of the State of Florida.