In particularly contentious Connecticut child custody disputes, the parents may hear the term guardian ad litem in discussions about their children. Often, this instills fear into both parents, especially the word guardian as it seems to imply someone else may become responsible for the children. One way to see the positive elements associated with a guardian ad litem is to learn more about the role he or she fills for children of divorce.
A guardian ad litem is a specially trained adult the court may appoint to represent and advocate for the child’s best interests. This can occur during any family-centered legal issue such as a child custody dispute. The role a guardian ad litem typically fills is to conduct an investigation and then make recommendations to the court regarding custody, visitation and other matters.
The guardian ad litem represents only the child involved in the matter. Courts expect a guardian ad litem to be fair and impartial for the duration of the investigation and to focus on the best interests of the child at all times.
Some of the specific functions a trained guardian ad litem may perform include:
— Investigating the facts of the case– Interviewing the parents, child and other involved parties– Reviewing associated records and files– Speaking with coaches, teachers and similar professionals– Encouraging dispute settlements– Participating in court proceedings– Making knowledgeable and informed recommendations
Just because the word guardian appears in the individual’s title, it does not mean he or she will take over guardianship. Rather, the guardian ad litem simply protects the child’s rights and well-being by representing his or her best interests.
All parties should take any legal proceeding that involves court intervention seriously. The best way to this is be acquiring legal representation from a professional with the skill to guide you through the process from start to finish.
Source: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, “Guardian Ad Litem or Attorney for Minor Child in Family Matters,” accessed July 14, 2015