An unfortunate reality is that divorces happen. Many times these divorces can result in very contentious cases that can become amplified when there are children involved. When divorcing parents cannot decide on how to move forward concerning children’s custody, the court may appoint a representative. These representatives are guardians ad litem, and they assist the court in deciding the best interest of the child. In this article, we will discuss the role of a guardian ad litem in a divorce proceeding.

What Are Guardians Ad Litem?

In our previous article, “Guardian Ad Litem, What is That?” we discussed what a guardian ad litem is and the role they play. A guardian ad litem is a court-appointed person who acts on behalf of a child. In other words, they present the child’s best interest to the court.

Can You Refuse A Guardian Ad Litem?

If court appoints a guardian ad litem for a divorce proceeding, neither spouse can refuse the appointment. They must cooperate with the guardian ad litem. Failure to do so will prevent the guardian ad litem from being able to present the best interest of the child case to the court. This usually leads to an unfavorable decision for the noncooperative parent.

Can A Guardian Ad Litem Be Removed From A Case?

Although parents have to cooperate with any court-appointed individuals, there are procedures in place to have a guardian ad litem removed from a case. In Florida, each court district has there own procedures on how to raise an issue concerning a guardian ad litem. The most common avenue to remove guardians ad litem is to file a complaint. The complaint goes to the family court, guardian ad litem authority, or county ombudsman.

It is important to note that a guardian ad litem will not be removed for any reason. So, for example, if one of the parents did not like the clothes that a guardian ad litem was wearing, this would not be sufficient for removal. On the other hand, if the guardian ad litem used their position in an unethical or criminal way or has a conflict of interest, then this would be a cause for removal. For example, if the guardian ad litem accepted a bribe from one of the parents to present them in a favorable light to the court.

Can Guardians Ad Litem Show Up To Observe Unannounced?

For a guardian ad litem to do their job effectively, they need to observe the family dynamic. In some cases, this may be through pre-arranged visits, and in other cases, it may be through surprise visits.

What Will A Guardian Ad Litem Check For During Their Visits?

The guardian ad litem will check to make sure that the living conditions for the child are a safe environment. This may mean checking to see if the bare essentials are being provided, such as clothes, food, hygiene, and sleeping arrangements.

Are Guardians Ad Litem Allowed To Talk To The Children Without The Parent’s Consent Or Presence?

Yes, a guardian ad litem is allowed to interact with the child to try and get an understanding of the child’s mental state of mind.

Contact Thompson Law

If the court appoints a guardian ad litem to involve themselves in your family, contact Thompson Law for a consultation. The lawyers at Thompson Law will advise you of your rights and ensure that the guardian ad litem is following their role properly.