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How Can a Guardian Ad Litem Help in a Florida Divorce?

A dispute over child custody in a Florida divorce or paternity case can often become very emotional and divisive. The more animosity there is, the more it hurts the children involved. The Florida divorce system has a way to try to ease some of the tension that is placed on the children.

In a Florida divorce where there is a request for creation or modification of a parenting plan, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to act as "next friend of the children, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate." This is typically done when a judge feels that it would be appropriate to hear what the child has to say about the proposed parenting plans, but wants to keep the child from feeling alone in the process.

If there are allegations of abuse, abandonment or neglect, the court has no alternative. It must appoint a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem will typically meet with the children and make them feel more at ease with the idea that their parents are divorcing. The guardian ad litem will assure them that the breakup of the marriage is not because of anything that they have done. Then the children will be asked what they would like to see the parenting plan look like. Finally, the guardian ad litem will inform the court of the thoughts of the children.

Bottom Line: Your expert St. Petersburg divorce lawyer can assist you in seeking a guardian ad litem to assist your children.

(copyright Stann Givens 2009)

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All Florida divorcing spouses who have children must complete a Parent Education and Family Stabilization class before a divorce will be granted by the court. This parenting class is mandatory because it helps to minimize the emotional trauma of the divorce on the children. Each parent must independently complete the course before the divorce enters the court. They must provide the court with a certificate of completion to prove the obligation has been met.
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