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The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in a Family Law Case

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Family Law

Children are the most vulnerable people in the world. Historically, children have rarely been given autonomy and are often victims of exploitation and abuse. What can be done in the event that the court needs to protect the rights and interests of a child within a family law case? In the state of Florida, a guardian ad litem (GAL) is appointed by the court to represent the best interest of a child in a legal proceeding. There are many ways in which a GAL can advocate for children, but it’s important to understand exactly what that means.

Who can become a guardian ad litem?

GAL’s are trained professionals who are appointed by a judge as an impartial third party who’s a sole role in the case is to protect the best interests of the child. In the state of Florida, a GAL can be a lawyer or an individual who is certified by a not-for-profit legal aid organization, or the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program.

What exactly does a guardian ad litem do?

A GAL can be appointed in cases involving domestic relations, juvenile delinquency, abuse, abandonment, or neglect. They may advocate for the child in criminal and civil cases by acting as a consistent and trustworthy adult throughout the proceedings. GAL is the eyes and ears of the court and they make vital recommendations based on the best interest of the child. The “best interest” is a concept that incorporates the common-sense judgment of the GAL as well as what the child has requested for themselves.

A GAL will attempt to get a full picture of the child’s life by visiting frequently to understand their relationships and daily life. They also ensure that the child understands events during the court processes and as the case progresses.

How can a guardian ad litem benefit the outcome of a case?

One of the many benefits of a GAL being appointed is that ultimately the framework of the case can be completely changed. For example, in cases of delinquency, the GAL can advocate for a more child-centric environment or treatment-oriented proceedings. GAL’s frequently work with the same children across cases, thus creating additional consistency regarding the child’s best interest. They may also create more efficiency by improving communication between involved parties across proceedings.

If you are facing a potential family law case and would like additional information about the possibility of having a GAL appointed, Nora Rotella is an experienced GAL that is frequently appointed by the court. Contact the offices of Rotella and Hernandez today at (305) 596-3618 to schedule an appointment.