Can I Have A Guardian Appointed For My Child During Our Custody Case?
Guardian Ad Litem
As a Berks County Child Custody Lawyer, Joseph A. Guillama is often asked whether the Court will appoint an independent person to look out for the best interests of the child in a custody dispute among parents. While it does not happen very often, the Court certainly has the power to appoint a “guardian ad litem” for a child whose parents are involved in a custody dispute. The phrase “ad litem” is Latin for “for the suit.” Essentially, a guardian ad litem is an attorney who is appointed to look out for the child’s best interests during a custody dispute between parents.
23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 5334 is entitled “Guardian Ad Litem for Child” and states “The Court may, on its own motion or the motion of a party, appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child in the action. The Court may assess the cost upon the parties, or any of them as otherwise provided by law. The guardian ad litem must be an attorney at law.” The statute also requires the guardian ad litem to represent the “legal interests” and the “best interests” of the child during the proceedings. This requires the guardian ad litem to, if appropriate to the child’s age and maturity, meet with the child to discuss his or her feelings and thoughts regarding his or her relationship with the child’s parents; be given access to relevant Court records, reports of examinations of the parents, and medical, psychological and school records; participate in all Court proceedings; conduct necessary investigation to ascertain relevant facts for presentation to the Court; interview and examine potential witnesses as necessary to protect the best interests of the child; make specific recommendations and a written report to the Court relating the best interests of the child; explain the proceedings to the child; and advise the Court of the child’s wishes and present to the Court any evidence that may exist to support the child’s wishes with regard to how the child feels about his or her relationship with each of both parents.
In the event you are involved in a Child Custody dispute and you wish to determine whether or not it is appropriate for the Court to appoint a guardian ad litem for your child, feel free to contact Berks County Child Custody Attorney Joseph A. Guillama.