The Pros and Cons of Having a Guardian Ad Litem in a Child Custody/Time-Sharing Case
While we have discussed what a Guardian Ad Litem (Guardian) is and who is qualified to serve in the role, it is also crucial to understand how this person can specifically assist you with child custody and timesharing issues if you are dealing with this type of dispute in Florida.
The Role of the Guardian
The Guardian’s purpose is to be a third party who represents the best interests of the child. In this sense, the role can help facilitate a child custody/timesharing issue within the court, and/or assist with a dispute regarding the child between the two parents, based on their recommendation.
A Guardian can be very helpful, particularly in a contentious case where one party may have lost sight of what is in the best interest of the child in their custody request. Judges tend to place a lot of weight on the Guardian’s report, not only because they are a third party, but also because they presumably conducted an investigation into what exactly is in the best interests of the child.
In a custody or timesharing dispute, both parents can either agree on an order appointing a Guardian or, if both do not agree, one parent can file a motion for a Guardian to be appointed to the case (all of this should be done with the assistance of attorneys experienced in family law). It is possible for both parties to agree on the specific Guardian they would like to select, or to leave that up to the judge.
In conducting their investigation, the Guardian will not only interview your child (sometimes in a setting where the child is comfortable, such as at home), but also you and the other parent. In that they serve as an attorney representing your child, they can also ask questions of any witnesses, as your own attorney can. They can also play a role in settlement negotiations and in modifications of parenting plans.
If the court appointed the Guardian, it must remove him or her. However, courts are often reluctant to do this unless there has been serious misconduct or a serious conflict of interest, thus it is often wiser to address the issue with your attorney. For example, if issues arise with the Guardian’s conduct or their recommendations, your attorney can assist you by potentially asking the Guardian specific questions in court. This way, you can avoid burning bridges with the person representing your child’s best interests (in case they are not removed by the court).
However, if the Guardian must absolutely be removed, you and your attorney can make a motion requesting a new Guardian. Ultimately, the decision is up to the judge.
Contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A., for Assistance
The law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. can help with any aspect of child custody and/or time-sharing arrangements, including the involvement of a Guardian. We represent both mothers and fathers in child custody matters in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and throughout Broward County.