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Powers and Authority of a Guardian Ad Litem in a Florida Divorce

In a Florida divorce or paternity proceeding, the best Tampa child custody lawyers often use guardians ad litem for the benefit of the children. A guardian ad litem should not act as an attorney or advocate for the child, but rather as next friend of the child in seeking the child's best interests. Once appointed, this person has fairly wide-ranging powers, many of which require the assistance of a lawyer. For example, the guardian ad litem has investigatory powers that allow the interview of the child, witnesses, or any other person having information concerning the welfare of the child. The guardian ad litem may also assist in seeking impartial expert examinations as necessary or, with the assistance of counsel, may ask the court to compel examination of the child or the parents by doctors or mental health professionals.

A guardian ad litem is entitled to attend any court proceedings that affect the child and also must submit a written report containing recommendations to the court within 10 days of any stipulation or agreement. The guardian is able to make oral or written recommendations directly to the court.

While these are some of the powers and duties specifically laid out in Florida law, the law is also clear that this list of powers is not meant to be exhaustive.

Bottom Line: The best St. Petersburg child custody lawyer will tell you that the purpose of a guardian ad litem is to act in the best interests of a child and that the law provides fairly extensive authority to assist in the pursuit of this goal.

(copyright Stann Givens 2009)

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