attorney ad litem

Guardian Ad Litem vs. Attorney Ad Litem: When Are They Used



A divorce is a painful experience for all parties involved.  It is a process that no one enters lightly. While a divorce has the potential to wreak havoc on the lives and finances of the partners splitting up, it has the potential to cause even more trauma in the lives of any children involved.  In many cases, both parents want the best for their children, but the pain of the divorce may cloud their judgment. It can make it hard for either parent to remain impartial and unbiased when it comes to what would be best for their children.  In these cases, a guardian ad litem or an attorney ad litem may be helpful in protecting the interests of the children. For people who have never gone through a divorce involving children, these terms may be unfamiliar and also confusing. While they sound similar, a guardian ad litem and an attorney ad litem have distinct roles in helping children in a court of law.


What Is A Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the court to look into the best interests of the child, in this case in terms of the divorce.  The guardian ad litem will investigate the life of the child by such methods as interviewing the child, both parents, and other adults such as teachers, daycare providers, or parents of the child’s friends.  The guardian ad litem may observe the child at school or with the parents. Based on this investigation, the guardian ad litem will write and present a report to the court making recommendations for the child’s situation after the divorce.  The guardian ad litem will weigh such factors as the child’s relationship with each parent, the stability of each parent’s home life, and whether there are any issues, such as substance abuse, that could impact the child. The guardian ad litem may also consider factors such as the age of the child.  Typically, older children have greater involvement in decisions such as custody arrangements. The report may include such recommendations such as where the child should primarily live and how much contact the child should have with each parent.


What Is An Attorney Ad Litem?

An attorney ad litem plays a slightly different role than a guardian ad litem, essentially acting as a legal representative of the child in court during divorce proceedings.  An attorney ad litem will not conduct the extensive investigation that the guardian ad litem does. The attorney ad litem will make that child’s case in court through such methods as calling witnesses on behalf of the child’s rights, examining witnesses called by either parent and objecting to evidence.  While the guardian ad litem recommends to the court what would be best for the child, the attorney ad litem advocates for those recommendations in court. Because the attorney is not hired by either parent, he can remain focused on the best interests of the child.

If you are going through a divorce involving children, an attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem may be helpful in representing their needs.  If you are looking for an attorney ad litem or a guardian ad litem in Florida, consider the law office of Paul H. Bowen.  Paul has over thirty years of experience in handling divorce proceedings, including the delicate matters that arise when children are involved.  An experienced lawyer can ease the burden of the many decisions that come with a divorce. Call our office today.