Guardians Ad Litem — Protecting Your Child In Difficult Divorce Cases

Law Blog

Some of the most contentious parts of many divorces are issues revolving around the care and custody of children. Both you and your soon-to-be ex spouse are parents, after all, and this means plenty of emotion surrounds the whole thing. 

In some cases, an outside third party can help ensure that your children's best interests are put at the forefront. This person is known as a guardian ad litem. What does one do? How are they appointed? And how can they protect your family? Here's what every parent needs to know.

What Is a Guardian ad Litem? 

A guardian ad litem is a professional appointed by a court to try to determine what is in the best interests of a child involved in a legal matter.

They are not a guardian in the traditional sense and take no custody of any aspect of the child or its affairs. Instead, they are there to learn more about the child's situation and present the judge with a professional opinion so the judge can make informed decisions regarding the child. The judge will take into consideration the guardian's observations, then the judge — not the guardian ad litem — rules on matters. 

Who Appoints a Guardian ad Litem?

In general, any one of three parties may request a guardian ad litem. The judge in a divorce case may request one if there is any concern about the health and wellbeing of children of the divorcing spouses. For example, if there is the possibility that joint custody would be dangerous for the child, the guardian ad litem can help the judge make this difficult choice with the best interest of the child in mind. 

You or your spouse can also request a guardian ad litem. They provide an important resource to bolster your request for certain concessions by the judge toward an abusive, negligent, uninvolved, or otherwise problematic co-parent. They also help keep emotions in check. 

How Should You Work With Yours?

The most important thing to remember when working with a guardian ad litem is that this person is here to benefit your child. Help them do their job the best you can. Be responsive to inquiries or requests for documents and other evidence. Communicate well. Answer questions honestly, but don't volunteer unnecessary detail in some cases. Let them form their own opinion rather than denigrating your soon-to-be ex.

Where to Learn More

Could a guardian ad litem be an important — or mandatory — part of your divorce and custody case? If so, learn more about how they work in your jurisdiction by meeting with a divorce attorney today. 


3 July 2023

family law - impacting your life

Just as there are laws to protect us on the roads, there are laws to protect our families. Whether you are fighting for the right to see your children, or are in the beginning stages of a divorce, a lawyer can help. There are many laws and stipulations that can have a serious impact on the outcome of any family legal situation. Having a lawyer working at your side to get through a difficult time is the only way to ensure that your rights are fully protected. On this site, you will learn about some of the family laws that could be impacting your life today.