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What is the Role of a Guardian ad Litem During a Florida Custody Battle?


During a high-conflict child custody hearing, the Florida courts may see fit to assign a guardian ad litem to intervene. Their job is to investigate the dispute and ensure that the children’s best interests are protected. In other cases, a parent may request that a guardian ad litem be assigned to their case. If the other parent disagrees, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not to appoint a guardian ad litem. If you are considering requesting a guardian ad litem to intervene in your custody dispute, it’s important to understand the role they play in protecting the children’s best interests. In this article, the Tampa, FL child custody attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. will discuss the role of the guardian ad litem in child custody disputes.

What is a guardian ad litem? 

A guardian ad litem is considered the “next friend of the child.” However, they are not a lawyer or an advocate who represents the interests of the child. Instead, they represent the interests of the court in adjudicating the matter. Their role is to act as an investigator or evaluator who can present the court with a report that establishes what is in the child’s best interests.

What does a guardian ad litem do? 

Essentially, the guardian ad litem investigates the children’s situation. This individual is often an experienced family law attorney who received training to become a guardian ad litem. Their role is to act as a fact finder and determine the best interests of the children. The guardian ad litem will investigate any matters that the court considers pressing. These include parental responsibility, decision-making, parental alienation, timesharing, or relocation.

A guardian ad litem will conduct interviews of both parents and speak with the child directly. Parents should be prepared that the guardian ad litem’s investigation will include home visits as well as interviews with the child’s teachers, therapists, doctors, grandparents and others who are important to the child’s life.

Ultimately, once the investigation is completed, the guardian ad litem will present the court with a report. They will make a recommendation to the court concerning the child’s best interests.

“The best interests of the children” is the legal standard employed when determining complex custody matters. The guardian ad litem acts as a neutral third party when there is a contentious custody dispute. They will make recommendations concerning the physical safety, psychological health, and emotional well-being of the child and ensure that those are properly protected.

While Florida judges will rely on the guardian ad litem’s recommendation, it is important to note that the family court judge will have the final say when it comes to custody matters.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Family Lawyer Today 

If you are involved in a potentially contentious custody matter, you will need the aid of a skilled Tampa, FL family lawyer. Westchase Law, P.A. represents the interests of divorcing couples in Tampa, FL. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your options right away.

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