What is a guardian ad litem?
A guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by the court who has the sole task of representing a child during a court proceeding. Guardian ad litem is Latin for law guardian. Under Virginia child custody laws, a guardian ad litem may be appointed during your divorce or child custody trial when a child’s best interests may otherwise be overlooked.
For example, your Virginia divorce case may require a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of your child if there is dispute among both parents’ claims for custody. A guardian ad litem is always appointed when there are allegations of abuse or neglect concerning the child.
A guardian ad litem is also sometimes appointed for the simple means of obtaining an unbiased look at both sides of the case. The guardian ad litem in your Virginia divorce case has the right to:
- make home visits;
- speak with anyone involved with the child regarding their well-being;
- make suggestions as to placement, visitation and other matters in the best interest of the child; and
- subpoena witnesses to testify in court to substantiate findings.
The guardian ad litem will provide a report detailing their findings and recommendations for the child’s custody during your Virginia divorce hearing.
When speaking with a guardian ad litem you should be careful to stick to factual statements and avoid focusing on the shortcomings of the other parent. There is no confidentiality with a guardian ad litem, and any communications may be used against you in your Virginia divorce trial proceedings.
The attorneys at Hofheimer Family Law Firm have experience helping women through a variety of child custody and divorce proceedings. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation – (757) 425-5200.