GUARDIAN AD LITEM
IN FAMILY LAW PROCEEDINGS

What Is A Guardian Ad Litem?

A guardian ad litem (“GAL”) is a specially-trained advocate who is court-appointed to perform an investigation or evaluation and provide recommendations to the judge as to a child (or children’s) best interest.

Are Guardian Ad Litems In Dependency Proceedings The Same As The Ones In Family Law Proceedings?

While there are some similarities, a GAL appointed in a family law case is under Sections 61.401-61.405, Florida Statutes, which is a separate chapter from dependency proceedings (Chapter 39, Florida Statutes).

Is A Guardian Ad Litem The Same As An Attorney Ad Litem?

No. The GAL is focused on investigating and evaluating the situation and making recommendations to the court about what he/she believes to be in your child’s best interests. This is different than an attorney because an attorney representing the child must advocate for what the child (who is his/her client) desires (with limited exceptions).

Note the distinction: a GAL may make a recommendation that he/she believes to be in the child’s best interest which is actually contrary to what the child desires. An attorney ad litem cannot do that (except in very limited circumstances).

The GAL take your child’s wishes and desires into account; however, ultimately the GAL makes his or her own independent recommendations to the court.

When Is A Guardian Ad Litem Appointed In A Family Law Proceeding?

The court must appoint a guardian ad litem in a proceeding where the case involves verified allegations of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, as defined by Section 39.01, Florida Statutes, and the court determines the allegations to be well founded.

In dissolution of marriage cases or other family law cases involving the creation, approval, or modification of a parenting plan, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem if it finds that doing so is in the best interest of the child. The appointment will be for the GAL “to act as next best friend of the child, investigator or evaluator, not as attorney or advocate.” Fla. Stat. s61.401.

The GAL shall be a party to any judicial proceeding from the date of the appointment until the date of discharge.

Who Can Be A Guardian Ad Litem?

There are certain minimum qualifications that have to be met for a person to qualify as a GAL. For a complete list, please see Section 61.401, Florida Statutes. Attorneys who are members in good standing with The Florida Bar may be appointed as GALs in family law proceedings.

How Is Sarah E. Kay, ESQ., BCS Unique As A Guardian Ad Litem?

Sarah has cultivated a passion and skill for giving children a voice through being a mother and advocate for her own special needs children, working as family law attorney, serving as volunteer almost 20 years with exchange students, and being former public school teacher.

Sarah has cultivated over her lifetime experiences skills in inter-cultural communication, active listening, perspectives-taking, research and writing. Sarah leverages her background in and extreme comfort with technology to provide high quality, cost-effective, and efficient services as a GAL in family law matters.

Where Does Sarah E. Kay, ESQ., BCS Serve As Guardian Ad Litem?

Sarah is available to serve as a guardian ad litem in the greater Tampa Bay area defined as Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and the continuous counties – a roughly 1 hour driving radius. Sarah is also available to serve as guardian ad litem in relocation cases. Please contact Kay Family Law PLLC if you have any questions about Sarah’s availability to serve in your case.

What Does Sarah E. Kay, ESQ., BCS Charge To Serve As A Guardian Ad Litem In A Family Law Matter?

How much Sarah charges as a GAL will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and the parties. Kay Family Law PLLC strives to offer affordable GAL services in family law matters. For more information about the fee structures offered through Kay Family Law PLLC, please click here.

Who Can Be A Guardian Ad Litem?

There are certain minimum qualifications that have to be met for a person to qualify as a GAL. For a complete list, please see Section 61.401, Florida Statutes. Attorneys who are members in good standing with The Florida Bar may be appointed as GALs in family law proceedings.

INTERESTED IN HAVING SARAH E. KAY, ESQ., BCS SERVE AS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM IN YOUR FAMILY LAW MATTER?

Use the link below to find out more about having Sarah E. Kay serves as a guardian ad litem in your family law matter.

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