Purpose of a Guardian Ad Litem in a Divorce

July 27, 2022 Off By Miguel Hoffman

Even if they have not been directly involved in a case involving divorce, many people in the United States have opinions about what is involved in the process of divorce, even if they have not gone through it themselves. This is the case even though they have not been directly engaged in a case involving divorce. Many movies and television shows will contain representations of divorce and other marriage breakdown processes as a typical component of their tales. 

This is especially prevalent in Hollywood productions. In light of this, the vast majority of people who live in the United States are probably not familiar with the concept of a guardian ad litem or the role that such a person plays in the process of getting a divorce. In addition, the majority of people in the United States have never been through the divorce process.

When it comes to having a fundamental comprehension of the roles that a guardian ad litem plays in a divorce proceeding, there are three key aspects that should be taken into consideration:

  • The meaning of the term “guardian ad litem”
  • Case categories under the jurisdiction of the domestic or family court in which a guardian ad litem may be appointed
  • concerns pertaining to the guardian ad litem, child custody, and parenting time

Meaning of  “Guardian Ad Litem”

The education and responsibilities of persons who are given the role of guardian ad litem by the courts of a specific state are determined by the statutes that are in effect within that state. The laws of one state may vary significantly from those of another state, sometimes in rather substantial ways.

Having said that, the most fundamental definition of a court-appointed guardian that is used all throughout the nation is someone who is assigned by a court to watch over or safeguard an individual during the course of a legal action. This can look like the responsibilities of an attorney who is representing a side in a legal dispute at first glance. In point of fact, a guardian ad litem in many jurisdictions is required to have a law degree in addition to further specialized training.

When a party or subject of a legal process does not have the mental ability to look out for their own interests, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to do so on their behalf. People who are unable to care for themselves due to a mental or physical illness may fall into this category. They also have the ability to incorporate young children in processes pertaining to domestic law or family law, such as divorce trials.

When a Guardian Ad Litem is Appointed

There are many various kinds of family court and domestic court procedures, and each one may call for the appointment of a guardian ad litem. These are the following:

  • Divorce cases
  • Disputes about child custody that arise after a divorce
  • Post-divorce parenting time (visitation) conflicts
  • Cases involving paternity
  • Cases involving adoption
  • Cases involving children in need of foster care (child abuse and neglect cases)

Concerns Related to Having a Guardian Ad Litem

When a divorce or the post-divorce case involves a dispute over child custody or parenting time, the court will often appoint a guardian ad litem to assist in the resolution of the case. When there is a contentious dispute about the amount of child support that is being paid, a court may choose to appoint a guardian ad litem to the case.

In the event that there is a serious disagreement over child custody and parenting time during a divorce proceeding, for instance, a guardian ad litem could be assigned to the case. A court has the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child or children born of the marriage and to look out for their welfare.

When circumstances are such as those described above, the appointed guardian ad litem is the sole person participating in the proceedings who will have the welfare of the child or children in their thoughts at all times. The welfare of the kid or children should be the first concern for parents who are going through a divorce. In spite of this, each of them is looking out for their personal interests throughout the breakdown of their marriage. In addition, lawyers who are representing one of the parties in a divorce have a duty of legal obligation to the client that they are representing. The kid or children will not be represented by the attorneys handling the divorce.

In addition to proactively protecting the legal interests of a child or children during the course of divorce proceedings, a guardian ad litem may also be asked to prepare a report that makes recommendations to the court regarding what is in the child’s or children’s best interests in terms of custody and parenting time. This report may be part of the guardian ad item’s response to a request made by the court. A guardian ad litem is vested with the authority to present to the court what that individual believes to be in the best interests of a child or children when it comes to issues of custody and parenting time. This is very similar to how each attorney has the opportunity to make an argument to the court regarding custody and visitation.

There is a possibility that a guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court if you are going through the process of getting a divorce and you have a kid or children who are still minors and you are unable to come to an agreement with respect to problems of child custody and parenting time. If your connection with the other parent is very contentious, this may be the circumstance in which you find yourself.