COURT APPOINTED GUARDIAN AD LITEM
WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM ?
The role of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is very different than anyone else associated with a child custody court case. A GAL is appointed to gather information and report it to the Court, along with their observations, conclusions, and recommendations. The GAL is a neutral adviser to the Court and offers an opinion on the dynamics of the family and a recommendation on how to help the family move forward.
Attorney Temi Zeitenberg attended a two-day seminar presented by Speaking 4 Kids.
ROLE OF GUARDIAN AD LITEM
Guardians ad litem are persons appointed by the court to represent “the best interests of the child”. The Guardian ad Litem is useful in family court for contested custody battles, visitation cases, or when there is suspected child abuse or neglect.
WHAT DOES THE GUARDIAN AD LITEM DO?
A Guardian ad Litem investigates the entire background, living conditions, and family relationships of the child, along with any related matters. The Guardian ad Litem is charged with making a written recommendation to the court. They can make home visits, go to the child’s school, and see the child at their extra-curricular activities. The Guardian ad Litem can speak with anyone in person, by phone, or any other method of communication.
The Guardian ad Litem uses this information to recommend parental responsibility, time sharing schedules, or other arrangements that would be in the best interests of the child. They will write a report at the end of their investigation making recommendations that are in the best interest of the child. The parties do not have to accept the report, but can present their own witnesses and evidence in court. The judge makes the final determination on these issues, but the opinion of the Guardian ad Litem is very valuable.
BENEFITS OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM
A Guardian ad Litem can be helpful when one parent is openly sabotaging the relationship between the child and the other parent. Also, they can be helpful if abuse or neglect is suspected on the part of the other parent. The Guardian’s report, if presented to the parties prior to trial, can sometimes lead the parents to decide to settle these issues rather than continue with a trial.
Ms. Zeitenberg has extensive experience helping children and families while working at the Florida Department of Children and Families. As a Guardian, she enjoys getting to the root of the problem causing the negative family dynamics and finding a positive resolution. Ms. Zeitenberg strives to provide insightful and helpful recommendations to help the family to lessen the litigation and hardship on the children.