Child Custody and the Role Of A Guardian Ad Litem

Need for a Guardian Ad Litem

Parents often disagree on what is best for the child in custody and divorce cases. The guardian ad-litem provides an objective opinion. The Guardian reports back to court with recommendations on where the child should reside most of the day, whether there is any factor in the home that could be causing harm, and what kind of contact they should have.

The Best Interest of the Child

States use the “best interests of the child” standard to determine which parent should have custody and make other decisions about the child. This standard is not universal. States may use different factors. They may consider the child’s relationship to both parents, their ability to co-operate with one another, their health, and any history of substance abuse or domestic violence.

Guardian Ad Litem: Duties

The state laws and court mandates dictate the duties of the guardian ad-litem. The guardian of the child is responsible for assessing his or her overall situation. The court may ask the guardian to review specific issues, such as substance abuse or mental health. The guardian should be named in the court order that details the involvement of a guardian.

The guardian-ad Litem attempts to gain a realistic understanding of the child’s daily life and the lives of all other involved. The guardian ad litem tries to understand the child’s relationships with his or her parents, stepparents, and siblings. The guardian ad-litem is usually authorized to interview the parents and the children, conduct surprise home inspections of their parents, observe them with the child, and collect information about the parents.

The guardian is the advocate for the child. The guardian often has the legal right to file motions to modify custody and visitation. He or she might be able to request restraints to safeguard the child from the parents’ dangerous behavior. If the parents refuse to comply with the court’s order, he or they may seek enforcement of the order.

In the end, the guardian ad-litem makes a recommendation on what is best for the child. The guardian ad-litem will try to make recommendations that allow the child to have meaningful relationships with both parents. The guardian ad litem’s primary duty is to provide information that is objective and relevant to the court so that they can make informed decisions about the best interests of the child.

Limitations on Guardian Ad Litem and Parties

State law may place limitations on the guardian ad-litem. If he/she recommends something that is against the child’s wishes, he/she might need to notify the court about the child’s position. The report of the guardian ad litem may be sealed by some states to protect it. The report may not be visible to others. The guardian may require the parties to cooperate and follow his or her reasonable requests. Failure to comply with the guardian ad litem may result in severe consequences. It is against the family law lawyers surrey for the parties to try to influence or coach the child about how to speak to him/her or manipulate his/her behavior to gain an advantage.

Guardian Ad Litem’s Recommendations

Because they offer the most objective professional opinions, the guardian ad-litem’s views are often deemed to be the most important. Although they are not required, the courts will often follow the advice of the guardian.


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