A guardian ad litem ("GAL") is appointed by the court in a dissolution of marriage or for the creation, approval, or modification of a parenting plan when the court believes that it would be in the best interest of the child or children to have someone act on behalf of the child or children. The GAL is not an attorney or advocate of the child or children but is considered to be the "next friend...investigator or evaluator."
A GAL must either be certified by the Guardian Ad Litem Program, certified by a not-for-profit legal aid organization or an attorney who is in good standing with the Florida Bar.
The powers and authority of the guardian ad litem are outlined in Section 61.403 of the Florida Statutes and are summarized as follows:
1. To investigate the allegations of the pleadings affecting the child and to interview the child, witnesses, or any other person having information concerning the welfare of the child.
2. With permission from the court, to inspect and copy records and documents related to the minor child or to the child's parents or others with whom the child resides.
3. With permission from the court, to order expert examinations of the child, the child's parents, or other expert examinations.
4.. To assist the court in obtaining impartial expert examinations.
5. To address the court and make written or oral recommendations to the court.
6. To be present and to participate in all depositions, hearings, and other proceedings in the action.
7. Nonattorney guardians may not practice law.
8. To submit his or her recommendations to the court regarding any stipulation or agreement which affect the interest or welfare of the minor child.
If you have children and are seeking a divorce or seeking a modification of your parenting plan, please contact Mara & Mara, P.A. in the DeLand area, Daytona Beach area or the Palm Coast area.