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What is a Guardian Ad Litem and Do I Need One in My Case?

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In a divorce, modification, or paternity case where the issues concerning a child are highly contested, a Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”) may be appointed by the Court.  The GAL is a neutral person appointed by the Court to represent your child’s best interests.  The GAL also assists in investigating allegations and making recommendations to the Court as to what is best for the child.

The GAL will meet with both parties and the child as many times as deemed necessary.  The GAL will talk to any witnesses you and the other party want them to.  He/she will review any documents provided or that they obtain, i.e. police reports, medical records, Court documents, school records, etc.  The GAL will also assist in trying to resolve problems arising between the parties that are related to the child.  For example, if the parties can’t agree on contact time for a holiday, the GAL may work with the attorneys to resolve the conflict without Court intervention.

After talking to the witnesses, the parties, the child, and reviewing all documents, the GAL will issue a report of his/her findings and recommendations to the Court.  This report will address the factors for the pending issues.  The GAL will make findings on each factor and will make recommendations accordingly.  For example, if one parent was temporarily staying on a friend’s couch, and overnight contact with the child may not be appropriate at that time until the parent has secured his/her own residence, the GAL will recommend timesharing at the present time and different timesharing after the parent has secured his/her own home.  If the child is old enough to give input and to express his/her desires, the GAL will make those desires known in the report submitted to the Court.  The GAL’s recommendations will be considered by the Court, however, the Court is not bound by them.

If used properly, the GAL may eliminate the need for a lot of witnesses and exhibits at trial.  A synopsis of the witnesses’ statements and review of documents is included in the GAL’s report.  This saves time and money and ultimately provides the Judge with a very thorough child-focused plan.  The GAL will advocate for your child at hearings that pertain to hi or her and for trial.

For more information about Guardians Ad Litem, contact the experienced attorneys at Goodblatt ● Leo.  Call us today at (407) 228-7007 or fill out our online form so we may begin reviewing your case.

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