When parents are involved in a child custody or visitation dispute, they frequently take a hard line as to why the child or children should be with them and not with the other parent. Often they feel there is no room for compromise and that they have to make the Court see why the other parent should not have the child or children living with them. In these situations, the Court has many resources that it can use to help determine what is best for the child and one of the best ones is appointing a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child. Either parent can request that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed or the Court may appoint one on it’s own initiative. However, parents often misunderstand what a Guardian Ad Litem does and what their role is.
A Guardian Ad Litem is an attorney who has received specialized training in representing children in the court system. Their role is to investigate the situation and make a recommendation to the court as to what they feel is best for the child. For more information on a Guardian Ad Litem, check out my article on Guardian Ad Litems.
Many parents feel that a Guardian Ad Litem is there to pick a side and represent that parent. They may feel defensive about working with the Guardian Ad Litem or they may feel that they need to convince them of why the other parent should not have the children. Either approach can backfire. An experienced Guardian Ad Litem will be able to analyze the situation and make a determination based on their investigation. If you have a Guardian Ad Litem assigned to your case and you are defensive or uncooperative, the Guardian Ad Litem may feel that you are trying to hide something. Likewise, if you go overboard in sharing your concerns about the other parent, the Guardian Ad Litem may feel that you are trying to influence the child against the other parent. This can justify awarding custody to the other parent.
If you do have a Guardian Ad Litem assigned to your custody or visitation case, you need to fully cooperate with the Guardian Ad Litem. Normally the Guardian Ad Litem will want to visit you at your home when the child is present. The Guardian Ad Litem will also want to talk to any other individuals who are involved with the child such as day care workers, teachers, therapists and other individuals living in the home. You will need to make the information on these individuals available to the Guardian Ad Litem.
If you are involved in a child custody action, you need to be represented by an experienced attorney who can represent your interests. Don’t go into court on what may be one of the most important cases you will ever be involved in without the assistance of someone who understands the process. I not only represent parents in custody actions but I am also qualified as a Guardian Ad Litem. Give us a call!
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