What You Should Know: Guardian Ad Litems
While this term can sound intimidating and complicated, the function of the guardian ad litem is simple and is influential in determining the organization of your family’s schedule. Here is what you should know regarding guardian ad litem;
Who Is a Guardian ad Litem?
A guardian ad litem is a counsel chosen by the court of law and representing the child's best interests in a placement or custody case. On nomination, the guardian ad litem investigates the facts, takes a position regarding legal placement and custody in a court of law. It is not correct to call the guardian ad litem a children's lawyer, but rather, they are advocates for the children's best interest. Sometimes, what a child wishes for is not taken into consideration, and thus the guardian ad litem makes a recommendation in the child's best interests based on numerous factors. Not every custody or divorce case requires a guardian ad litem. Partners should first try mediation to reach a consensus. If the partners cannot agree, the guardian ad litem is then appointed.
Research done by the guardian ad litem will majorly contain 'informal discovery,' carried out through interviews with the child, parent, and any other person with insight related to the case. Parents or guardians may be asked to sign a release to approve the guardian ad litem to analyze relevant records like medical records or school records.
Also, the guardian ad litem can use 'formal discovery,' which consists of conducting depositions, written questions for relevant people, or requests for production of documents. The guardian ad litem, while developing recommendations, consider many factors such as the wishes of parents and the child, the child's well-being, accessibility of childcare amenities, if there has been an incident of violence among the parents, and the physical and mental health of the child, parent, or any other individual living in the household of the custodian.
When the investigation is done, the guardian ad litem presents the commendation summary to the parents. The parents can then discuss settlements. If they cannot reach an agreement, the case is brought to the court of law to make the final decision.
The judge advocate determines who compensates the guardian ad litem's services. The cost is usually split equally among the two parties. However, their contemplations can factor into the verdict. Also, the payment varies from one state to another.
Divorce and custody cases can easily take an emotional toll on individuals involved. If you or your family is going through any of these, reach out to advocates that can help you understand the procedure and offer support as you prepare for a legal outcome that you deserve.