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What is the role of the guardian ad litem?

| Dec 13, 2019 | Guardian Ad Litem

Family law matters, such as child custody proceedings, can often become contentious. Those tensions can become even more volatile when children are involved. Parents routinely argue over custody, parenting styles and agendas for raising their kids, and the children can become caught in the middle.

Whether parents have genuine differences over the child’s future or are looking to exact revenge on their spouse, their kids’ rights and wishes can be ignored. That’s when a Pennsylvania judge can appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child in the proceedings.

Guardians offer a fresh perspective to custody disputes

Children, especially those who are younger, are often reluctant to express their views before a judge and don’t want to appear to take sides in their parents’ dispute. Once they are appointed, the child’s guardian ad litem will be their voice in court.

How does the process work?

Once a guardian is selected, they will want to meet the child at home or in their office and talk to each parent as well. The role of a guardian ad litem includes:

  • Not taking sides or assessing blame in a custody dispute
  • Focusing solely on the welfare of the child
  • Participating in all court proceedings
  • Having access to all documents
  • Cross-examining witnesses called by the parents’ attorneys
  • Calling their own witnesses
  • Making recommendations to the court in the best interests of the child

Guardians protect a child’s rights

People who become guardians ad litem do so because they genuinely care about children and sometimes become the voice of reason in court proceedings. They can also be instrumental in settlements while helping smooth over rough spots involved with custody and visitation plans. A family law attorney, who has been a guardian ad litem appointed by Pennsylvania judges, can help resolve custody cases by understanding the rights and needs of the children involved.