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Hofheimer Family Law Firm

Your Child's Guardian Ad Litem and You (Part A)

If you and your soon-to-be ex-husband share children, one of the most critical-and stressful-aspects of the divorce process is deciding on Virginia child custody arrangements. With all the adults angling to get their way and the back-and-forth between attorneys and other adult parties, it is easy for your children's voice to get lost in the shuffle.

A guardian ad litem is a representative appointed by the court who has the sole task of representing a child in any court proceeding. Guardian ad litem is Latin for law guardian. Under Virginia child custody laws, a guardian ad litem may be appointed in any trial and hearing matter in which a child's best interests may be overlooked.

It is crucial to fully understand the importance of having a guardian ad litem appointed in your Virginia divorce. According to Virginia child custody laws, before the court can hear any case involving a child who is alleged to be abused or neglected, the court "shall appoint a discreet and competent attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem to represent the child." But a guardian ad litem is often appointed in Virginia child custody cases that do not come with any implications of parental wrong-doing, as well.

Your child's guardian ad litem is a factor in your Virginia child custody case and their interaction with you, your ex-husband and your child will all play a part in shaping the course of your Virginia child custody arrangements.

Role of the Guardian Ad Litem

The guardian ad litem's role is to report back to the judge on her findings regarding your child's best interests
. This can be crucial to your case because under Virginia child custody laws, the guardian ad litem's report is admissible evidence.

The judge in your Virginia divorce does not know your child, and may never talk in private with your child if the judge feels he or she is too young to be competently interviewed. However, the appointed guardian ad litem will often go into the child's living environments, providing insights that are highly valued by the determining judge. Therefore, the guardian ad litem can act as the voice of the child, speaking to the judge on your child's behalf.

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Kristen Hofheimer
A passionate advocate and well known champion for women in divorce and child custody issues.