Tonight’s post was written by one of our Marietta custody attorneys, Alyssa Blanchard.
A Guardian ad what?
A Guardian ad Litem that is. Often times in a child custody matter a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed. A Guardian is a neutral third party (normally an attorney who practices or may have practiced in family law). The Guardian will interview each parent, visit with the child(ren), talk to teachers, review medical/school records and do anything else that she deems necessary as part of her investigation.
Her investigation will serve as the basis for her report and recommendation to the judge as to which parent should have primary custody.
A Guardian ad Litem is often a must and always beneficial in a custody case. First, the judge obviously cannot spend any time with you or your children in your home. The Judge does not see you at home or your child at school. All the judge has is your word and any evidence that you may have in your favor or against your spouse or the mother/father of your child. That’s where the Guardian comes in. In cases where both parties are fighting for custody, the Guardian is someone who serves as a representative for the child and after conducting her investigation can give a neutral report to the judge regarding primary physical custody.
A Guardian ad Litem can be appointed by the court or by agreement of the parties. Should a Guardian ad Litem be appointed in your case, there are couple of things that you should do. First, make sure that you pay the initial retainer for the Guardian ad Litem fees as soon as possible. After all, you want to keep the Guardian happy. These fees are usually split 50/50 between the parties.
Next, the Guardian ad Litem will send you a questionnaire to complete, You must complete this questionnaire prior to your initial meeting with Guardian.
Finally, cooperate, cooperate, cooperate! During her investigation, the Guardian ad Litem may request additional information, schedule follow up meetings, or set up impromptu home visits. Work with the Guardian on getting these things together and anything else she may require.
The Guardian ad Litem is there to represent the best interest of your child. If you believe that it is in your child’s best interest that you have primary custody, working with the Guardian ad Litem is key. In order to do so, you must understand the Guardian ad Litem’s key role in your litigation and your role in assisting her toward resolving your custody case.