If a guardian ad litem, also known as a GAL, is involved in a family law matter it is helpful for the parties to understand the GAL’s role.
In Florida, a GAL must be at least 21 years old and must complete an application which includes photo identification, a background check, an interview and references. They must also complete a training program.
A GAL is often appointed by the court in a child custody case. He or she represents the best interest of the child in the matter and acts as an independent investigator.
The GAL will meet with the child’s parents and may interview the child, witnesses and other people who have information about the child’s welfare. This may include family members, friends and teachers.
After notice and a hearing, the court may allow the guardian to inspect and copy school and medical records relating to the child, the child’s parents or other household members with whom the child resides.
Guardian ad litem recommendations
It’s important that parents maintain a positive relationship with the GAL. The GAL is in a unique position to understand the family structure and the needs of the child.
The GAL must keep information related to his or her evaluation confidential. It is shared with the court through a written report and contains recommendations about child custody and parenting time. The report may also include the child’s wishes.
While the court will make the final determination about the custody arrangement and any other related matters, the GAL’s recommendations are taken seriously by the court and hold weight.
If parents have questions about GALs and child custody, an experienced attorney can help them understand the process and provide advice.