A Guardian Ad Litem in family law actions (i.e. divorce and paternity actions) is a third party that is appointed to help the court determine what is in the best interest of a minor child.
The Guardian is often given the task of speaking/interviewing various persons such as teachers, medical providers, neighbors, the children, the parents, relatives, etc. to provide the court with a report and recommendations as to what that Guardian believes would be in the best interest of the minor child (generally on issues such as time-sharing, parental responsibility and/or relocation).
A Guardian Ad Litem is often used to attempt to resolve issues and reduce the likelihood of having to proceed to trial on issues involving the child/ren.
Generally a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed by the Court and performs an investigation on the various concerns raised by the parents and the child/ren.
Once the investigation is complete, a report is prepared and given to the parties and the court. This report gives recommendations on the issues investigated.
Often the court will ratify these recommendations.
If a guardian is being considered, it is often best for everyone to agree to waive the hearsay rule.
Absent a waiver, the guardian’s testimony and report are subject to hearsay objections. That means at trial the Court cannot hear information from the guardian or read information in the report that is hearsay when there is an objection raised.
Often whichever party disagrees with the guardian raises the objection.
These objections make it extremely difficult for the court to understand how and why the guardian is making certain recommendations.
A Guardian Ad Litem in family law cases is most often paid for the services rendered.
The fees can range from $150.00 per hour to $300.00 per hour.
Much like lawyers, guardian ad litems also often take retainers ranging from $1,000.00 to $3,000.00 to accept a case.
If you are considering a guardian, you should try to make sure you are comfortable with the fee arrangements prior to having that guardian accepted onto the case.
It is difficult to have a guardian removed once appointed.
I have performed Guardian Ad Litem services for most of the judges in Broward County in family law cases.
I have handled cases with special needs children, cases with sexual abuse allegations, parental alienation cases and various other situations.
Having this experience also makes me a better family law attorney as I have the experience to see how a guardian perceives information and what information is important and relevant to the guardian’s investigation.
Similarly, being a family law attorney assists me when I am appointed as a guardian as I understand the law and what the judges require for evidence to ensure the judges have the information to make the correct decisions, if needed.
If you are interested in considering me as a guardian ad litem, please feel free to contact our office.