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Tampa Family Lawyer > Blog > Family > Do I Need A Guardian Ad Litem During A Florida Custody Battle?

Do I Need A Guardian Ad Litem During A Florida Custody Battle?


In a high-conflict child custody case, the Florida courts have the option of appointing a guardian ad litem to help represent the children’s best interests during the divorce. In some cases, parents may also request a guardian ad litem from the court. If both parents agree, then the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to the children. If one parent disputes the matter, then the court will hold a hearing on whether or not the guardian ad litem should be appointed. In this article, the Tampa, FL divorce lawyers will discuss the role of a guardian ad litem during a child custody hearing.

What is a guardian ad litem? 

Under Florida Statutes § 61.403, a guardian ad litem is defined as a court-appointed representative whose role is to act as the “next friend of the child.” Their role is to protect the child’s best interests. However, they are not considered an advocate or a lawyer for the child. Instead, you can think of a guardian ad litem as an investigator or evaluator.

What does the guardian ad litem do? 

In a highly disputed child custody matter, the role of the guardian ad litem is to separate the truth from the falsities. In other words, they act as a fact finder. They are likely to be a highly experienced family law attorney who has received training to become a guardian ad litem.

The guardian ad litem serves as an investigator. They work on behalf of the court. Their main purpose is to determine what’s best for the children. The guardian ad litem can investigate any issues that the court asks them to. This includes matters such as parental responsibility and decision-making, timesharing, matters of parental alienation, and relocation. The role of the guardian ad litem is to determine what is in the best interests of the children.

The guardian ad litem will often conduct interviews with both parents and talk directly to the child. Parents should expect that the investigation will be quite detailed and will include home visits as well as interviews with the children’s teachers, doctors, therapists, grandparents or others.

What is “the best interests of the children” standard? 

Florida law requires family courts to make decisions regarding child custody and time-sharing based on “the best interests of the child” standard. This is a legal standard that is set in place to make determinations resolving child custody and time-sharing disputes. The guardian ad litem, while not strictly representing the children, is a neutral party whose purpose is to ensure that the children are physically, psychologically, and emotionally safe and protected. Ultimately, the guardian ad litem will issue a report to the court making recommendations based on the best interests of the children.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Family Law Attorney Today 

Faulkner Law Group, PLLC represents the interests of Tampa couples who are looking to divorce. Call our Tampa family law attorneys today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin going over your concerns right away.

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