In many highly contentious family law cases, a parent (or both parents) want to have their child’s opinions, thoughts, or wishes heard by the Court. However, under most circumstances, the Court does not want to involve a child directly as this puts the child in the awkward and often damaging position of choosing sides. A Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) can provide a voice for the child or children in a family law matter. A GAL’s role is not as an attorney for either the parents or the child; instead, the GAL works solely to advance the child’s best interests.
Pursuant to the relevant Florida Statute, 61.403, in order to advance a child’s best interests, a GAL has the powers and responsibilities to investigate allegations concerning the child and interview witnesses—including the child–that have possible information regarding the child. Most importantly, the GAL is able to address the Court directly. Thus, following the GAL’s investigation, the GAL files a written report that makes recommendations to the Court and may also contain a statement of the child’s wishes. The Court customarily gives a great amount of consideration to a GAL’s recommendations.
A GAL may be appointed to a case upon the Court’s own initiative or upon the request of either parent. A GAL’s fees are paid by the parties, and due to the often contentious and complicated nature of these cases, these fees can be high. The attorneys at Artemis Family Law Group can make these potential fees less daunting by offering a sliding scale retainer based on the combined income of the parties. If you believe your family law matter requires the expertise and focus of a GAL, the attorneys at Artemis Family Law Group are prepared to become the child’s advocate and voice. Please contact us directly to discuss the sliding scale information.