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What Does A Guardian Ad Litem Do In A Florida Custody Case?


When two parents are in high conflict over child custody, a Florida court may see fit to appoint a guardian ad litem to help investigate the dispute and ensure the child’s best interests. In other cases, a parent may request a guardian ad litem be assigned to their case. When both parents agree, the guardian ad litem is appointed by the court. If one parent disagrees, the court will likely hold a hearing to determine if the guardian ad litem is necessary. In this article, the Florida child custody attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law will discuss the role of the guardian ad litem in a child custody case and why you (as a parent) may want to appoint one.

What is a guardian ad litem? 

Florida Statutes § 61.403 defines a guardian ad litem as the “next friend of the child.” They are a court-appointed representative whose duty is to protect the best interests of the child. However, the guardian ad litem is not the child’s lawyer and does not act as their advocate. Instead, they represent the interests of the court and act as an investigator to determine how well the children are being cared for.

What does a guardian ad litem do? 

A guardian ad litem is an investigator. Often, they have experience as family law attorneys who have received special training to become a guardian ad litem. They are appointed in high-conflict child custody disputes to separate truth from allegation.

The guardian ad litem serves as an investigator who works on behalf of the family court. Their main goal is to determine what is in the best interests of the child. The court will ask them to investigate certain matters such as parental responsibility, decision-making, timesharing, parental alienation, or relocation.

The guardian ad litem will conduct interviews with both parents and the child. Parents who have a guardian ad litem assigned to their custody dispute should expect that they will conduct a home visit. They will also interview the child’s teachers, therapist, doctors, grandparents, and anyone else who plays an important role in the child’s life. They will further review all records related to the case.

Ultimately, they will submit a report to the judge who will use the report to issue rulings. It’s important to understand that the guardian ad litem does not have decision-making power. Only the judge does. So, the guardian ad litem’s report is a recommendation made to the court that influences how the court will make decisions.

Talk to an Orlando Child Custody Attorney Today 

Greater Orlando Family Law represents the interests of parents who are embroiled in child custody disputes. Our Orlando family lawyers have decades of experience helping couples finalize their divorces and move on with their lives. If you are concerned about the other parent’s fitness, we can help you establish that through facts and evidence. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin discussing your case right away.

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