What is a Guardian Ad Litem in Florida?
A guardian ad litem in Florida is an advocate for children that are dealing with difficult situations. Many of the children have lived in households where they were neglected or abused in some way. In some instances, the biological parents are losing custody of the child or one biological parent is attempting to have custody revoked from another due to accusations of abuse and neglect. The children may not have the ability to speak up for themselves or make decisions for themselves because of their young age.
Abused children are often fearful of adults because of what they have experienced at the hands of someone else. Children that have not been abused may still feel uncomfortable speaking on custody-related issues. The guardian ad litem is appointed advocate of the child by a judge in a courtroom.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Guardian Ad Litem?
The guardian ad litem has major responsibilities and must act in the best interest of the child. Any decisions made on behalf of the child must benefit the child now and in the future. Some of the responsibilities of the guardian ad litem may include:
- Speaking to the child in an appropriate manner while explaining what is going on in a way that the child will better understand;
- Listening to both parents in custody disputes to get a better idea of what is best for the child moving forward;
- Working with the court to find a permanent home for the child where the child will feel safe, comfortable, and loved;
- Gathering more information from the child on the current situation and circumstances surrounding their situation, such as what is going on at home and how it has impacted the child;
- Addressing the primary needs of the child and relaying that information to the judge handling the case.
Before the guardian ad litem can gather information and help the judge make essential decisions that will impact a child’s life for the rest of his/her life, the guardian ad litem must know more about the situation. He or she will need to speak with the child regularly to get more information. It is important for the guardian ad litem to talk to the child in a way that is going to make the child feel comfortable enough to speak up about things that are going on at home.
When is the Guardian Ad Litem Appointed?
A guardian ad litem is appointed by a judge when a child is in a situation where changes that can impact their life are being made. While the guardian ad litem is often appointed in cases where children are neglected and their biological parents are about to lose custody, that is not the only time. Some of the other reasons for the guardian ad litem to get involved in a situation include:
- A stepparent would like to legally adopt a child;
- One parent wants to move out of the state with the child and the other is contesting that decision;
- Separating parents are unable to come to a clear custody agreement and the situation is becoming toxic for everyone involved;
- One parent is attempting to leave with the child to get away from the other parent who is physically and emotionally abusive to everyone in the household.
What is the Primary Role of the Guardian Ad Litem?
In Florida, the guardian ad litem is there for the child. The professional who takes on this role does not have a say in any other legal disputes involving the parents, adoptive parents, or anyone else except for the child. The guardian ad litem will become a friend to the child while working on gathering important information that can support claims in the courtroom, including medical records, information from the school the child was attending, and records from the psychologist. Although the guardian ad litem may meet with the parents to hear what they have to say about the situation, the goal is to listen to the child and make decisions that will benefit them.
Dealing with a Legal Situation Involving a Child? Let Spencer Law Help
Are you dealing with a serious situation involving your child? If you are fighting for custody or trying to take certain steps to protect your child, you may not know where to turn or what steps to take. Spencer Law is here to help. Reach out to us at 850-912-8080 to schedule your consultation and receive the professional legal help you need.