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What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem is a person appointed by the court whose job is to investigate the the household and look further into a situation beyond the courtroom. After looking into a situation, the Guardian ad Litem would return to the court, advising on issues like where the children should live, whether the children are being harmed in their home, what contact the child should have with the parent. It is the court’s way to make sure the child’s well-being is truly being taken care of. the Guardian ad Litem has the ability to see day-to-day functioning in the house, build a relationship with the child, allow the child to have a confidant, and report accurate portrayals to the court.

happy child

Photo by subbotina.

Beyond the courtroom, the Guardian ad Litem program in Florida fosters healthy relationships between Guardian ad Litems and children. In their appointed Guardian ad Litem, the children can find an advocate when they might have felt alone before. In fact, the program’s slogan “I am for the Child,” reflects the importance the GAL has in the child’s life. Often, the child finds a role model, mentor, and friend in their GAL. Floridians are able to volunteer to be a Guardian ad Litem through their website at: http://guardianadlitem.org/. There are no legal education requirements in order to become a child advocate. You must, however, be compassionate and fight for the child’s rights at all times.

GAL’s are typically used in cases where child custody is trying to be determined, where child abuse is suspected, where emancipation is requested, and more. In most divorce cases, GALs are brought in when there is any concern that the child’s best interest is not truly being sought.

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