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What does a guardian ad litem do?

Parents who are considering giving up or facing the possibility of losing their parental rights are undoubtedly in a painful, difficult position. Parents are typically expected to be the best advocates and caretakers for their kids, but the reality in some situations is that a child's parents may not be the people best suited for this role.

Under these circumstances, a guardian ad litem may be appointed. A person in this role will have a number of obligations.

As noted by Florida statues, a guardian ad litem will be responsible for looking out for a child's best interests and act accordingly. More specifically, the guardian ad litem can:

  • Investigate claims made by the child, including abuse by parents
  • Request an examination of a child by a doctor, dentist or psychologist
  • Interview a child in order to understand his or her wishes and concerns
  • Access a child's medical records
  • Attend and participate in all legal proceedings involving the child
  • Make recommendations for what will be in the best interests of the child

These are incredible responsibilities that would otherwise be shouldered by a child's parent, but if a parent is unwilling or unable to fulfill these obligations, someone else will take them over.

Any person with concerns about a parent acting as a child's legal advocate will want to discuss these concerns with an attorney. Whether you are the parent relinquishing your rights or someone who is worried about a child's welfare, you will want to be sure you understand your options and your rights. You will also want to be sure that you are acting in the best interests of a child.

Discussing this difficult situation and the complex legal stakes with an attorney who is experienced in non-parent custody cases can be crucial.

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