What is the difference between a Guardian ad Litem and a Parenting Coordinator?
By: Attorney John Knutton
In Florida divorce cases where minor children are involved, the courts often appoint a Guardian ad Litem and sometimes a Parenting Coordinator. What exactly does a Guardian ad Litem do, what does a Parenting Coordinator do, and how can each affect your case?
A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interests of the minor child. Often a lawyer, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL for short) conducts an investigation to determine what recommendations they will give on the minor child’s behalf in court. The GAL advocates for the best interests of the minor child and, as part of the investigation, will speak to the minor child and his or her parents, as well as the minor child’s teachers, friends, and other people in their life.
GALs provide an important impartial voice, and speak on the behalf of the minor child in court, ensuring that the minor child also has a voice throughout the often difficult process of going through a divorce.
Parenting Coordinators (PCs for short), on the other hand, are appointed in high conflict divorce and post-divorce cases when minor children are involved. The purpose of a parenting coordination is to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process, where the PC assists the parents in developing or implementing their parenting plan. PCs are often appointed when parents experience difficulties in dealing with one another, need help in complying with timesharing arrangements and following the parenting plan, or need assistance in resolving disputes in a timely manner. When both parents agree, PCs can also make temporary decisions on child-related issues to immediately resolve parents’ conflict. In Florida, PCs are required to be either mental health professionals or attorneys.
Whether your case needs a Guardian ad Litem or a Parenting Coordinator, it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to help guide you through this process, and ensure that the best GAL or PC works on your case. The attorneys at Compass Law have years of experience working with GALs and PCs, and would be happy to help you with your case.