During a child custody dispute, each parent usually has a representative supporting his or her side of the argument, but who will support the children’s needs? There should be no dispute that children are in desperate need of support at such a difficult time. In the Pinellas region of Florida, courts often answer the call for child advocacy by appointing a Guardian Ad item, or GAL, on behalf of minor children. When parents learn that a GAL will be working with their kids, they often fear the results of such court intervention.
You should know that a GAL’s primary goal is to advocate for children caught in the midst of a child custody dispute or if the court becomes concerned that parents are putting their own issues above the children’s welfare. Guardians Ad Litem do not act as attorneys; rather their only interest is the child’s best interests. To achieve their goals, a GAL is given whatever powers, responsibilities and privileges necessary to protect a child’s best interests, including:
— Investigating any allegations contained in the pleadings that may affect the child
— Interviewing the child and other people that may have information concerning the child’s well-being
— Reviewing medical records and other data concerning the child upon a court order
— Asking the court to order the child, the parents or all to undergo expert examinations by qualified personnel
— Making either oral or written recommendations to the court about the child’s best interests
— Filing pleadings, petitions or motions for relief as deemed necessary
— Participating in hearings, depositions other legal proceedings when necessary to advance the child’s best interests
As you can see, the Guardian Ad Litem serves your child and your child only. If you are still worried that the results of a GAL’s findings might have a negative effect on your child custody proceedings, speak with a lawyer about your concerns. Even though your child is rightly at the heart of the matter, you need someone to advocate on your behalf as well.