1) WHY IS A GUARDIAN APPOINTED?
A Guardian Ad Litem is usually an attorney appointed by the Court to represent the child(ren) in a legal dispute concerning their custody or welfare. Many people wonder why any court would think that the parties (usually parents of the child) would not have the concerns of the child in mind. However, in many cases, the parties to the case are so wrapped up in his/her own problems or needs that they fail to see the situation from the perspective of the child(ren). The court appoints the guardian so that he/she does not owe any allegiance to either party. They can be objective in the investigation and recommendation as to what disposition would be in the best interests of the child(ren).
2) WHAT DOES A GUARDIAN DO?
A guardian is empowered to investigate the entire background, living conditions, family relationships, and any other matter related thereto in order to make a recommendation to the court as to what would be in the best interests of the child as to placement, visitation, and other matters ruled upon by the court. They can make home visits, speak with anyone in person, by phone, or any other method of communication. They can also, with the courts help, subpoena witnesses to testify and to appear in court. The guardian usually makes a report to the court recommending a specific outcome. The parties do not have to accept the report, but can present their own witnesses and evidence in court. The Judge makes the final determination on the disposition of the child(ren). However, the report of the guardian, if presented properly to the parties prior to trial, can sometimes lead to settlement of the issues without the expense of a trial.