When a contentious divorce between parents takes place in Ontario, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the children's interests. The role of a guardian ad litem is to provide a legal voice for someone who is not capable of doing so in court such as young children, infants or individuals who have been found incompetent. In addition to divorce cases, a guardian ad litem may be involved in contested inheritances, paternity lawsuits, child neglect or abuse cases.
A prospective guardian ad litem receives specialized training in order to perform as an advocate. The guardian will observe the child and significant adults. In addition, the guardian will review school, counselling and medical records. The guardian will then provide a recommendation to the court either in writing or through verbal testimony. Once the court has reached a decision, the guardian has the role of ensuring that the court's orders are being upheld by all parties.
In a divorce, the court is tasked with making decisions that are in the best interest of the children. A guardian ad litem has the important role of determining what is in the children's best interest and making recommendations to the court.
If both parents can agree on child custody, visitation and co-parenting arrangements, it may not be necessary to have a guardian ad litem represent the children in a divorce case. A lawyer with a background in family law may help a client work out a child custody plan that meets the family's needs. In most cases, a judge will agree with a divorce agreement that has been submitted by the parties. If the parents cannot come to an agreement, the court may decide the child custody arrangements and appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the children.
Source: The Free Dictionary, "Guardian Ad Litem", November 06, 2014