A Guardian Ad Litem is a court appointed person who acts as the next friend of a minor child and represents the minor child’s best interest. Once a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court, they can do a myriad of different things to further help the judge make a decision in your family law case. They can investigate the allegations made in the pleadings. They may interview the parents, the minor children and other third parties who may have information concerning the welfare of the minor children. The guardian ad litem can file motions with the court and request that he or she be allowed to speak to hospitals, medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrist and the children’s school. The guardian can request records and documentation be produced to further aid in the investigation. The guardian ad litem can also requests that the court order parties or the children to submit to examinations by doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists or other mental health professionals. The guardian ad litem can testify in court on behalf of the children.
A Guardian Ad Litem will almost always make a written recommendation and a statement regarding the minor child’s wishes. They will typically make a recommendation regarding a parenting plan, time sharing or a relocation request, but may make other recommendations depending on the issues in the case. The guardian ad litem can file a pleading, motion or any other document that he or she sees fit in the family law case. The guardian is a named party to the case and must be kept informed of every step of the case. The guardian ad litem can also participate in depositions, hearings and other proceedings. The guardian ad litem can also compel witnesses to attend at hearings and question witnesses if the guardian ad litem is an attorney. The guardian ad litem can also testify to hearsay statements made by the minor children if the parties agree to waive the hearsay rule. Most guardian ad litems will not agree to be appointed unless the parties specifically waive the hearsay evidence rule. The guardian will also be immune to any liability, civil or criminial, that otherwise might be incurred or imposed. The guardian ad litem may have other duties and the parties are free to specifically agree to extend the guardian ad litems duties by stipulation. If you think a guardian ad litem might benefit your divorce or paternity case, contact your expert family law attorney at Givens Givens Sparks to discuss the benefits of a guardian ad litem being appointed to further the best interests of your minor children.