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How To Work with a Guardian Ad Litem on Long Island, NY

by | Jan 9, 2024 | Child Custody NY

What to Expect When Working with a Guardian Ad Litem on Long Island, New York

In divorce proceedings involving child custody on Long Island, New York, it can be challenging for the court to understand what is best for your child. That is where a guardian ad litem comes into play. A guardian ad litem is an officer of the court, but they are not an attorney – instead, they are tasked with representing the best interests of your child (or children).

If your divorce case involves a guardian ad litem, it’s important to understand the role of this individual, what they can do, and how to interact with them to promote a successful outcome.

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What Is a Guardian Ad Litem?

The term “guardian ad litem” might sound intimidating. But really, this person’s job is simple: They are a court-appointed, objective body responsible for looking out for the best interests of someone who cannot represent themselves. These individuals are often employed in child custody cases but can also be used in elder law or cases involving an incapacitated or incarcerated person.

What Should You Expect When Working with a Guardian Ad Litem on Long Island, NY?

Many people refer to the guardian ad litem as the “eyes and ears” of children in a divorce case. Because people under 18 cannot appear in court on their own behalf, the guardian is tasked with advocating for them. To gain an accurate picture of the child’s life and make recommendations about their best interests, the guardian will conduct an in-depth investigation.

This may involve visiting places and situations that are part of the minor’s life. For instance, a guardian ad litem will often visit the child’s school as well as each parent’s residence. They will also conduct detailed interviews. Then, they will report back to the court and make a recommendation concerning custody and visitation issues.

Judges typically hold these reports in high esteem, so it’s important that you take the involvement of a guardian ad litem seriously and put forth a strong effort to impress them. Make sure you are honest and upfront while putting your best foot forward.

Who Pays for the Guardian Ad Litem on Long Island, New York?

Compensation for a guardian ad litem is drawn from the financial resources at stake in your divorce case – likely, your marital assets. The court is responsible for reviewing the guardian ad litem’s fees and ensuring they are reasonable, but typically you will pay for the guardian at litem from your divorce estate.

Will Your Long Island, NY Divorce Case Require a Guardian Ad Litem?

Not every Long Island, NY divorce case involving children will require a guardian ad litem. The court usually appoints one of these guardians only if they have a reason to believe there are problems within the home that present a risk to your child’s well-being. For instance, guardians are often used in cases involving neglect or abuse. Generally, the court will list its reasons for appointing a guardian ad litem in the related court order.

It’s also important to note that the court is not the only party that can request a guardian ad litem be involved in your case. New York Law (Chapter 8, Article 12, Section 1202: Statute on Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem) states that the topic can come before the court upon a motion by any of the following:

  • A party to the divorce action (i.e., either parent)
  • A relative, friend, or conservator
  • The children themselves, if they’re over 14 years old
  • The court, if required by circumstances or if parents have indicated there will be contested issues around how the child is raised.

Can You Fire Your Guardian Ad Litem on Long Island, New York?

Generally speaking, once the guardian ad litem is appointed, a judge is the only person who can discharge them. That said, if you feel your guardian is acting inappropriately, you have options. You can bring a motion requesting that the guardian be discharged – though you will need to express your reasoning. Ultimately, the decision rests in the hands of the judge.

Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Is a Trusted Family Law Firm on Long Island, New York

If you have questions about a guardian ad litem in your divorce case or if one has already been appointed and you need help navigating the situation, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have extensive experience working with court-appointed guardians, and we can help you achieve a resolution that benefits everyone.

Contact us to learn more about your legal options or to book your free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. Call now at 631-923-1910 or complete our short contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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