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Guardian ad litem: What you need to know

The courts often appoint guardian ad litems in divorce cases involving children to ensure that there is at least one dedicated person representing the best interests of the children. However, parents can be confused, angry or even a little scared about the idea of someone else deciding what is best for the children, particularly when it seems like every aspect of your life is turning upside down.

It's important to understand that guardian ad litems are there strictly to protect your children's interests. The guardian ad litem is considered an officer of the court and is supposed to be an unbiased person who can take in both sides of the situation and figure out what is best for the children. This can mean being present for any and all court proceedings and interviewing those involved in the case. Sometimes guardian ad litems will also interview grandparents or other family members who have contact with the children.

The guardian ad litem will make at least one report to the courts. However, for more complicated or very adversarial cases, the guardian ad litem may need to do extensive observations and submit multiple reports. While these observations can be awkward or even feel like intrusions, it's important to cooperate as much as possible to expedite the process.

In rare cases, there may be an issue with the guardian ad litem where one party feels like the guardian is not unbiased or is not performing their job correctly. It's best to discuss this matter with your attorney to understand what, if anything, you may be able to do.

Source: Colorado Judicial Branch, "Appointment Guidelines for Guardians ad Litem in the Denver Probate Court," accessed Aug. 20, 2015

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