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The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

Divorces often become very emotional and heated, and children are often harmed as a result. Fortunately, Rhode Island is a state that takes children’s protection very seriously.

What is a guardian ad litem? The courts use a guardian ad litem to assist in cases involving child custody, visitation, relocation, support and parental rights. A guardian ad litem is a lawyer or mental health professional appointed by the court to conduct an investigation and report to the court regarding the best interests of the child.

Why is a guardian ad litem appointed? Oftentimes, a child needs a guardian ad litem during the parents’ divorce or other proceeding because the parents become so consumed with one-upping each other that the child’s best interest takes a backseat. If one or both parents suspect that the other parent is alienating the child or exercising undue influence, appointing a guardian ad litem is in the child’s best interests. If you think that appointing a guardian ad litem can help your child, you should ask the court to appoint one.

What are the powers of a guardian ad litem? A guardian ad litem has many powers, including investigatory powers to conduct interviews with the child, witnesses and other persons who have information regarding the welfare of the child. The guardian ad litem can also ask the court to compel examination of the child or the parents by doctors or mental health professionals. Finally, the guardian ad litem is entitled to attend all court proceedings that affect the child and make oral or written recommendations to the court.

If you have questions about guardians ad litem, a dedicated Rhode Island divorce lawyer can answer all of your questions.