If you are embroiled in a family court matter, it is possible that a Guardian ad Litem will be assigned to any minor children affected by the proceedings. These individuals are often legal professionals hired to defend the best interests of a child or others that may be incapacitated in some way that impacts their understanding of the legal matter at hand. Some Guardian ad Litems may not have a legal background, in which case they may work closely with an attorney from family court. The term "ad Litem" is Latin for "in the lawsuit" so this individual is a guardian that is assigned to represent the child or individual during a legal matter.
Some reasons that a Guardian ad Litem might be assigned are listed below:
To investigate a matter. A Guardian ad Litem is hired by the court to research and investigate situations pertinent to the child that they are representing. In a sense, the child is the client of the Guardian ad Litem, though this representative may not actually be a lawyer or legal professional.
To talk to pertinent people. A Guardian ad Litem has a sort of cart blanche when it comes to speaking to relevant parties regarding the court issue. These individuals can speak to the child, parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers, social services, and any other party that they need to in order to get a broader understanding of the situation at hand. In most instances, the Guardian ad Litem does not need the parents' permission to speak with others about the child, nor do they need to interview others with the parents or guardians present.
To give the child a voice in court. It is the job of the Guardian ad Litem to not only investigate and talk to people about the child, but to also give the child the opportunity to express their own thoughts, feelings, and wishes regarding the situation in court.
To make recommendations. The Guardian ad Litem is responsible for drafting a report that outlines their recommendations to the court in regards to what is in the best interests of the child or person that they are representing. The Judge takes these recommendations quite seriously, though they are not bound to accept or adhere to what the Guardian ad Litem suggests.
A Guardian ad Litem is a representative that is assigned to protect the best interests of a child or other individual that may not be able to understand the situation, such as persons with disabilities or developmental delays. Fees for a Guardian ad Litem's services are often free, though in some instances the fees are covered by the courts. It is always advised to cooperate with the Guardian ad Litem who is working on your legal issue as their report can help or hurt a family court case.
For more information, talk to a local firm like Knollmeyer Law Office.