In Florida family law, the doctrine of “best interest of the child” is the guiding principle for the court. In some cases, however, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem. This often happens when the parents are spiteful and the child is too young to express what they want. Read on to learn how the court uses a guardian ad litem.
What is a Guardian Ad Litem?
The court appoints a guardian ad litem to act on behalf of the child to present their best interest. Guardians ad litem are often attorneys by profession. However, the role of the guardian is not to act as the child’s attorney or advocate. Their job is to observe the child with both parents and make impartial evaluations to help the court determine what would be the best interest of the child.
The guardians ad litem conduct their evaluations by observing the child in different situations. They try to interact with the child to get an understanding of the child’s true feelings towards each parent. They also conduct interviews with both parents and any other caregivers in the child’s life. This includes people such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles.
The guardian’s investigation is to assist the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
What Does “Best Interest of the Child” Mean?
Different areas of laws have standards by which they judge the merits of the case. In criminal court, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In civil court, the standard is the “preponderance of the evidence” and/or “reasonable prudent individual”. In family court, the standard is “best interest of the child”. Florida outlines the “best interest of the child standard” in Florida statute 61.13 and states that in family matters, the minor child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being are taken into consideration in any decisions.
Guardians Ad Litem Are There To Gather Information
While it is true that the courts will take into consideration the reports and evaluations of the guardians ad litem, it is important to note that they are not the deciding factors of the case. Under Florida law, the authority to render a court decision rests solely in the presiding judge of the case.
Who Can Act As A Guardian Ad Litem?
According to the guardian ad litem website, anyone who has common sense, compassion, and dedication to children can act as guardians ad litem.
If the court assigns your family a guardian ad litem, just communicate and remain respectful towards them. Remember that they are not there to be your friend or adversary but to understand the conditions in which your child lives in.