(GALA guardian ad litem (GAL) can be a very helpful person in child custody cases. In some cases, a GAL is automatically appointed by the Court. In other child custody cases, there must be a request to appoint a GAL and approval from a judge. Guardian ad litems can be very helpful but are not appropriate for all child custody cases. Before asking a judge to appoint a GAL you should speak with a Tampa child custody attorney for advice about your specific case.
Purpose of a Guardian Ad Litem
The guardian ad litem (GAL) program’s mission is “I am for the child”meaning that the GAL is there to advocate solely for the best interests of the child. The GAL is not appointed for the interests of either parent or a third party. A GAL is given power to investigate the situation and to determine the best interests of that child. Further, Florida law states that the guardian ad litem “shall act as next friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate but shall act in the child’s best interests. A guardian ad litem shall have the powers, privileges, and responsibilities to the extent necessary to advance the best interests of the child.” See Florida Statute 61.403
Investigation by the Guardian Ad Litem
The guardian ad litem will be required to visit all the children they are appointed to every 30 days. A visit is not required to be any specific length or at any specific place. The GAL must see the child’s placement each time they are taken to a new placement. If the GAL thinks that there are any safety concerns in any given placement then the proper authorities are notified.
The goal of the parent’s case plan is generally reunification at the beginning of the process. The parents are given a time frame that they must complete their case plan by, usually a year. If there is too little progress with the case plan, the goal can be changed to adoption or permanent guardianship. This process takes time and the guardian ad litem must still conduct their monthly visits. Once a new placement has been found or the child has been re-unified with their parents the GAL conducts visits for about 6 months. The visits are to make sure the child is thriving and safe in home.
Training Required for a Guardian Ad Litem
A guardian ad litem goes through a training process that involves both online and classroom learning. The training program typically requires about 30 hours to complete. There is also an interview process to limit the candidates to those that are serious about helping children and that the program feels will not determinately effect the child that has been through some rough times already. The training prepares the GAL to maneuver through possible situations that they may find themselves having to deal with. More information about the training process and what the purpose of a GAL is can be found by clicking here. Each Court in Florida has different rules when it comes to the training and use of a guardian ad litem. For more information about a specific Court’s requirements contact a child custody lawyer in your area.
Child Custody Law Firm in Tampa
If you need to start or are in the middle of a child custody case contact Florida Law Advisers to speak with a child custody attorney. At Florida Law Advisers, we take these matters very seriously and will stand firm for what is fair. Our professional legal team is dedicated and passionate about these matters. Our team of attorneys and will work tirelessly to help achieve the outcome you desire. To speak with a child custody lawyer in Tampa call us today at 800 990 7763, we are available to answer your calls 24/7.