A guardian ad litem, or “guardian for the lawsuit” when translated, is a court-appointed advocate and representative for the child or children involved in a custody dispute that has reached litigation. Not to be mistaken for someone with legal guardianship of the child, the guardian ad litem only provides advocacy and representation for children as it relates to the lawsuit—the divorce or child custody case.
Not every divorce case is assigned a guardian ad litem, only those that are so highly contested that the Judge feels one is necessary. Divorce cases, even contested ones, rarely make it to the courtroom. However, the ones that do usually involve complex circumstances and strong emotions. As a result, the spouses can sometimes struggle to remain neutral when pursuing whatever is in the best interest of their child(ren).
To help protect any child(ren) from getting overlooked in court proceedings, judges will typically assign a guardian ad litem to become the child’s representative and advocate. The guardian ad litem’s sole responsibility is to remain neutral in terms of the disputing couple and only pursue outcomes that are in the child’s best interest.
Who Can Be the Guardian Ad Litem?
A guardian ad litem is usually a family law attorney who is specially trained to fulfill the duties required to serve the child or children in question properly. Once appointed, guardians ad litem serve either for the duration of the case or until the judge dismisses them from the case.
What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?
As the representative of the child(ren) in the divorce or child custody proceedings, the guardian ad litem carries out a neutral, unbiased investigation to determine what outcomes and court orders will be in the child’s best interest. Since they must assist the court in knowing how to prepare the order, the guardian ad litem will use the information gathered to make recommendations to the court about child custody, visitation arrangements, and anything else regarding the child and their parents.
The guardian ad litem’s investigation can include:
- Conducting interviews with parents, family members, friends, teachers, and relevant professionals like doctors or mental health specialists.
- Assessing each parent’s living conditions.
- Assessing the child’s school and education.
- Reviewing records, including legal, educational, medical, financial, or any other type of child-relevant document.
The guardian ad litem will also evaluate evidence from the current case to determine if and how the parents upheld their child’s best interest throughout the course of the case.
Once the investigation is finished, the guardian ad litem will produce a thorough written report with evidence-based recommendations for the judge to consider during the final ruling.
Can I Contest My Guardian Ad Litem’s Recommendations?
Judges take guardian ad litem recommendations very seriously. However, if your guardian ad litem’s recommendations seem unfavorable to you as a parent, know that their word is not the final say. You or the other parent have the right to contest the guardian’s recommendations before the judge and argue the case that you should be more favorably considered for whatever outcome you are seeking.
However, remember that your guardian ad litem is not out to get you or hurt your chances of receiving favorable outcomes. They are solely representing your child and using their skills and training to reach an outcome that best serves your child, and the judge understands that.
Rachel Platt has served many children in Atlanta and the greater Atlanta metro area, advocating for them as their guardian ad litem. Rachel has undergone special training and education to receive qualifications and provide the best representation possible for her clients, and she continues to advocate for each child’s best interest.
If you are a client of Platt Family Law Firm and your case requires a guardian ad litem, Rachel and her team understand how to work with your child’s representative so that they may serve your child to the best of their ability while also assisting you in your pursuit for custody and other desirable outcomes.
Do you need a family law attorney for your child custody case in Atlanta, GA? Speak with the team at Platt Family Law.
Rachel Platt and our all-female family law attorneys represent families facing divorce, child custody disputes, and all other family law matters. Our knowledgeable, experienced attorneys can navigate your legal case, protecting your children and working toward positive, favorable outcomes.
Schedule a consultation with our firm today to discuss your case: 404-255-3434