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What Is a Guardian Ad Litem in Child Custody?

Child Guardian Long Island New York

Child custody cases and other types of family law cases in Nassau or Suffolk on Long Island often involve a guardian ad litem, a court-appointed attorney that looks after the child. If your case does, it’s important that you understand who this person is and what role they play in a family legal case. Here’s what you need to know about guardian ad litems and what you can do to get legal help for child custody and divorce cases.

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What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem is simply an attorney who is appointed by the court to look after the best interests of an individual deemed unable to look after their own best interests. Most often this applies to children, however, the court can appoint a guardian for any individual they believe has a need for one. They remain a neutral party and work to advocate only for what is best for the child’s health and well-being.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

The guardian primarily acts as investigator in a family legal case. They will review all available evidence in the case and conduct interviews with your family and people who know you. After collecting as much data as possible, they will make recommendations to the court based on what they believe would have the most positive impact on the child. A guardian will often make recommendations as to which parent should have primary custody, what shared parenting or visitation should look like, and any other recommendations they have for protecting the child’s rights and interests.

In What Types of Cases is a Guardian Ad Litem Involved?

Most often, guardian ad litems are involved in family legal cases and more specifically, child custody cases. However, guardians can also be involved in cases where the court must determine what will happen to a mentally incapacitated individual or in any legal case involving a child under the age of 18. Guardians are frequently used in cases where neglect or abuse is an issue.

When Do Long Island Courts Appoint a Guardian Ad Litem?

Guardians are not used in all family legal cases that involve children. Typically, the court will only appoint a guardian if they have reason to believe that there are problems within the home that are a risk to the child’s safety and well-being. The court will usually list the reasons for appointing a guardian in the order.

How to Work with a Guardian Ad Litem

Many families are intimidated by a guardian ad litem. The investigation can be intense and parents may feel like they’re under a microscope because essentially, they are. Very few, if any, stones are left unturned after a guardian’s investigation. However, it’s important to remember that the guardian’s job is first and foremost to protect the best interests of your child. If your child’s safety and well-being are also your chief concerns, your goals should align with those of the guardian’s. Understanding this is key to finding a way to work in tandem with the guardian.

Working with a guardian can be challenging in different ways and it can be difficult to know what your legal rights are regarding the sharing and withholding of information. Doing your best to facilitate the investigation and provide the information requested can help your case, but it’s critical that you protect your rights by only providing what is legally necessary. This is why it’s key to also work with your own independent family law attorney. Your lawyer can advise you on all your interactions with the guardian ad litem, ensuring that you can protect the interests of your entire family.

Contact an Experienced Long Island Family Law Firm Today

See this page to learn everything you need to know about Child Custody and Visitation on Long Island.

If a guardian ad litem has been appointed in your Long Island family law case, don’t wait to contact an experienced family law lawyer. Our experienced divorce and family law firm can provide you with comprehensive legal assistance and guidance as you work with the court-appointed guardian. Contact us today to learn more about guardians and how they may affect your case, or to schedule an appointment for a free consultation by calling 631-923-1910.



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