What Is A Guardian Ad Litem?
Simply put, a Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for the child. Children do not have much of a voice in our legal system, and they are the most vulnerable and undervalued participants in the legal arena. A Guardian Ad Litem looks after the needs of the child and the child’s best interests.
At Schwam-Wilcox & Associates in Orlando, we can work as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in divorce, child custody and visitation, paternity, dependency and criminal defense cases. Our founding attorney, Camy B. Schwam-Wilcox, is a court-approved Guardian Ad Litem with more than a decade of experience in this role, she has attended and completed the Department of Children and Families Sexual Abuse Training to be able to assist child victims in this serious setting.
Guardians Ad Litem In Child Custody And Relocation Cases
When it comes to child custody and visitation cases, the Guardian Ad Litem is hired to be an unbiased third party to assist the court in determining time-sharing arrangements, based on the GAL’s opinion of what is in the child’s best interest. The GAL would typically meet separately with both parents and the children in our law office first. The GAL would then visit the children in each parent’s home and make some observations about the interaction between the parents and the children, living conditions, verbal and nonverbal communication between the parents and the children, and more. The GAL would request that each parent provide a list of potential witnesses for the GAL to speak with regarding the relationship between the parent and the children. The GAL report includes recommendations that will be either filed with the court, or notice filed with the court that a report was completed, and the attorneys and parties would receive the report. While the Judge may or may not follow the recommendations, GAL recommendations are followed most of the time.
Guardians Ad Litem In Dependency Cases
Dependency cases involve allegations of child abuse, neglect or abandonment. They usually involve the Department of Children and Families, and the Judge will almost always appoint a Guardian Ad Litem for the children.
Ultimately, the steps the GAL takes are similar to those in child custody cases and involve interviews with and observations of all involved parties. The report provided by the GAL will yield a recommendation about what is in the best interest of the child. The GAL will also recommend case plan tasks for each of the parties and document whether the parties have progressed with their individual case plan. The GAL can file motions and seek services for the child, and even order a motion for the suspension of contact with a parent or legal guardian.
If you are in need of a Guardian Ad Litem in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake or other counties throughout Florida call Schwam-Wilcox & Associates at 407-245-7700, or Contact Us by completing the form below to schedule a consultation. Schwam-Wilcox & Associates is a firm you can trust, and our attorneys are ready to help you with your legal needs. The main office is conveniently located near Winter Park in Orlando, with appointments also available in The Villages.