Greenville Guardian Ad Litem Lawyer

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Custody and other cases involving children often introduce an element of acrimony and uncertainty into a child’s life. To ensure that the child’s best interests are protected, the court may appoint an advocate known as a guardian ad litem.

A guardian ad litem performs a critical service in some of the most contentious family law matters, but it’s a role that not all parents fully understand.

Do you need a guardian ad litem in Greenville, SC? Find out how Greenville family law attorney Angela Frazier can help.

What Does a Guardian Ad Litem Do?

Many Family Court and Department of Social Services (DSS) cases directly involve minor children. These matters often create disputes between the parents that put the children at risk.

Guardians ad litem are appointed to ensure that the best interests of the children are safeguarded. A guardian ad litem does not have to be an attorney but often is due to the lawyer’s extensive understanding of the court system.

Despite the name, a guardian ad litem in South Carolina is not the child’s custodial guardian.

This individual is also not the child’s lawyer.

The guardian ad litem’s role in South Carolina is to investigate issues that the parents’ attorneys might not bring before the court. Since courts are required to act in the child’s best interests, the guardian ad litem presents critical information about the child’s welfare to the judge.

Other responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that all information provided to the court is accurate, updated, and relevant
  • Attending all court hearings related to the child’s custody or visitation
  • Maintaining a complete file on the matter, including notes
  • Providing a final written report to the court concerning the child’s best interests
  • Submitting, as appropriate, briefs, memoranda, affidavits, and other documents on behalf of the child, in accordance with the South Carolina Rules of Evidence and state law

The guardian ad litem does not make specific custody recommendations unless requested to do so by the judge. This person is also not allowed to serve as a mediator or give legal advice to either parent.

How Guardians Ad Litem Investigate

The investigation is a substantial portion of the guardian ad litem’s role. A guardian ad litem in a Greenville, SC family law matter investigates facts and forms an opinion regarding the child’s welfare. This person may also involve him- or herself in financial issues related to the case if they impact the child.

As part of the investigation, the guardian ad litem:

  • Interviews the parties to the case
  • Reviews the pleadings and other court paperwork
  • Visits the child’s home to determine if the environment is suitable for the child
  • Speaks with and asks questions of the child
  • Interviews other witnesses who may have relevant information

In many cases, the guardian ad litem also examines the child’s school, medical, and mental health records. If there are allegations between the parents of drug or alcohol abuse, the guardian ad litem may ask that the judge order a parent to take a screening test.

Other experts like psychologists or social workers could be consulted for input and court testimony.

Cases That May Involve a Guardian Ad Litem

The judge can appoint a guardian ad litem in a variety of cases, such as those involving:

  • Contested custody and visitation
  • Child name changes
  • Adoptions
  • DSS abuse and neglect
  • Paternity actions
  • Involuntary commitments
  • Termination of parental rights

What Is the Guardian Ad Litem Appointment Process?

Either parent, in a family court matter in which custody or visitation is at issue, can ask the court to appoint a guardian ad litem in South Carolina.

The judge may appoint one if either of the following are true:

  • Without a guardian ad litem, the court will probably not be completely informed about the relevant facts of the case, and there is a substantial dispute between the parents which necessitates a guardian ad litem; or
  • Both parents consent to the appointment of a guardian ad litem

The judge has total discretion to determine who to appoint as the guardian ad litem in each family law case. The court can also appoint a guardian ad litem on its own motion.

Why Consider a Guardian Ad Litem Lawyer?

Although a layperson can be a guardian ad litem, there are good reasons to specifically request a lawyer to serve in this capacity.

To begin with, an attorney will already have the necessary experience with custody and visitation that qualifies guardians ad litem in general. The right attorney will also be able to objectively record and evaluate the evidence without taking either parent’s side. Finally, an experienced family lawyer will be familiar with the rules of evidence and other laws that may arise in the due course of serving as a guardian ad litem.

Contact Our Greenville Guardian Ad Litem Lawyer

Elliott Frazier — Family, Personal Injury, & Car Accident Attorneys, LLC understands the issues that arise when children are caught in the middle of domestic disputes. Angela Frazier is a proud mother and dedicated lawyer who understands that children come first.

To learn more about how a South Carolina guardian ad litem can help your family law matter, reach out to our team today.

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