When parents fight about custody, they can easily become overwhelmed with the conflict and lose perspective on what their child truly needs and wants.
A guardian ad litem makes sure that your child’s best interests are represented in court. The guardian meets with the child and the parents, conducts interviews, reviews records, and prepares a report for the judge. The guardian also attends court hearings on the child’s behalf.
At the LaMantia Law Firm, our family law attorneys can serve as guardians ad litem at the request of either the court or the parties to a dispute. We know how stressful the custody process is for both parents and children. We understand the legal and personal issues at stake, and we handle each case in a thorough, compassionate and professional manner – always focusing on what’s best for your child.
In addition to private divorce and custody cases, our attorneys can serve as guardians ad litem for incompetent persons and in cases involving abuse and neglect, adoption, or termination of parental rights.
Why Have a Guardian Ad Litem?
South Carolina courts base their child custody and visitation orders on the child’s best interests. When parents can’t put their own interests aside or can’t agree on what would be best, it can be helpful to have a guardian ad litem.
A guardian at litem gathers information and makes sure that the child’s needs are fully considered. The guardian can offer a much-needed neutral voice when the parents want vastly different custody arrangements. Guardians can also uncover facts – such as a drug addiction — that might make one parent a poor choice for custody.
It’s important to remember that although a guardian at litem may be an attorney, the guardian does not represent either the mother or the father and will not try to help them resolve their custody dispute. The guardian’s sole role is to represent the interests of the child. After investigating the facts, however, the guardian may make a report to the court that tends to support one parent’s position.
What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?
Unlike a legal guardian, a guardian ad litem isn’t responsible for your child’s care, finances or upbringing. A guardian ad litem’s only function is to represent the child’s interests in the custody dispute.
Guardians ad litem in South Carolina can interview people, make home visits and investigate a child and family’s entire background. Their responsibilities include:
- Representing the child’s best interests
- Investigating the family’s situation in an impartial and balanced manner. During the investigation, the guardian must meet with and observe the child. The guardian might also review court, school, medical and criminal records; visit the parents’ homes; and interview parents, caregivers or school personnel.
- Advocating for the child’s best interest by making suggestions for evaluation, services and treatment for the child and his or her family.
- Attending court hearings.
- Maintaining a complete case file.
- Making reports to the family and the court, including a final written report that may include the guardian’s conclusions.
- Submitting court briefs and other legal documents on the child’s behalf, if necessary
At the conclusion of the investigation, the guardian at litem will make a final report to the court. The report may include observations and conclusions about the child, the parents, and the child’s needs and desires. The report cannot, however, recommend a particular custody arrangement.
If you need to choose a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of your child or an incompetent person in court, it’s important to select someone experienced and trustworthy. At the LaMantia law firm, we are happy to help.