Custody cases, whether the result of divorce, or parental responsibilities and rights issues, are rarely an easy process. When it comes to children, (most) parents have deep and passionate preferences and convictions about living arrangements, education, relationships, and more. Obviously, much like the parents, the courts want what’s best for children as well, and are charged with the duty of determining the ideal situation for each family that comes through the doors of the courtroom. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a smooth process, as emotions, large amounts of information, and varying opinions accompany the case. These situations can be benefitted by a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).
A GAL is essentially an objective perspective that can offer insight in situations where families and legal representatives have failed to come to a resolution regarding custody of the children or dependents in question. A Guardian Ad Litem is usually a lawyer, but can be, on occasion, a qualified and specially trained professional in a mental health or development profession. Once appointed by the court, a GAL will set out to help formulate the best possible long-term arrangements for the dependents in the case without any bias, personal investment, or otherwise subjective factors.
A Guardian Ad Litem gathers information such as family history, including any history of substance abuse or negative behaviors for each parent/potential guardian in the case, stability of all home environments proposed, preferences of the children or dependents in the case. This information is then used to formulate a potential plan for the family in question. In many cases, having a Guardian Ad Litem alleviates stress on children or dependents involved in these types of cases, as it relieves them of having to testify in court against either/any of the parents/guardians in question. The GAL can interview the dependents, and use that information, although they can make recommendations other than what the children or dependents request if it is in the best interest of the. child. It’s important to note that parents or guardians are prohibited from coaching or coercing their children/dependents before these interviews and will be held accountable if the court or the GAL suspects that this has happened. Overall, having a Guardian Ad Litem removes some of the stress in a custody battle and can ensure that the children or dependents end up in the best possible scenario for their long term growth and development, without the complications of emotion and personal bias.
Sessums Law Group serves families in and around the greater Tampa Bay area with family law services. With some of the top attorneys in the state of Florida, we are equipped to help your family reach the best solutions, whether you are facing divorce, a custody case, estate planning, or prenuptial agreements. If you have questions about what the process of going through a family law case will look like for you, or if you are seeking quality legal representation that will achieve the results you want, call our office to get started. We are here to help, and WE STAND FOR YOU!