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Family Law

Understanding the Function of a Guardian Ad Litem

Guardians ad litem are specialized attorneys with additional experience, education, and training relating to the needs and best interests of children. They are appointed by the court to represent a child in a given case. The specific reason for their presence will be noted in the order that appointed them. There is no predetermined period of time for which they will be present. Rather, they will work on the case until they have satisfactorily completed their investigation.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

The Guardian ad litem is essentially an investigator who works on behalf of the court to find relevant information and relay it back to the court. They conduct a thorough investigation, compile a report, and make appropriate recommendations to the court regarding how best to proceed to act in the best interest of the child.

During their investigation, the guardian ad litem works in a hands-on manner, frequently communicating with the parents, child, and other adults in the family’s life to construct a wholistic understanding of the case. They combine this information with further relevant research and use their specialized training to offer recommendations geared towards benefiting the child.

Beyond their investigation, the guardian ad litem is present during any related court hearings. They typically remain on the case until the final hearing but may even be recruited to remain on the case afterwards to make sure the parties are compliant with the resulting order.

When Are Guardians Ad Litem Appointed?

Guardians ad litem are appointed to represent someone who is either under 18, incapacitated, or in jail. In cases involving children, a guardian ad litem is appointed when there is reasonable cause to suspect the child is in some degree of danger that necessitates further investigation.

Things to Keep in Mind When Working with a Guardian Ad Litem

Since the guardian ad litem plays a significant role in deciding your case, it’s imperative that you remain cooperative and compliant. You should:

  • Be communicative and inform the guardian ad litem of everything going on that you think could be relevant to their inspection
  • Remain reachable by phone to respond to the guardian ad litem in a timely manner
  • Provide them with necessary records, such as school and medical records of your child
  • Provide them with any criminal records and pay stubs
  • Cooperate with any requests for health evaluations
  • Be prepared for impromptu home visits

A guardian ad litem is your child’s advocate. When you need an advocate to defend you and your competency as a parent, contact Mitchell & West LLC.