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When to Ask for a Divorce Guardian Ad Litem?

If you are a parent seeking divorce, you undoubtedly want to ensure that your children are not unduly stressed by the marriage dissolution process. You certainly do not want your children to be emotionally or psychologically harmed as a result of your marriage coming to an end. Situations can arise in New Jersey marriage dissolution proceedings in which the court elects to appoint or assign what is known as a divorce guardian ad litem to the case. In some instances, a party to a divorce may want to have a guardian ad litem appointed because of the facts and circumstances surrounding a particular case. You may wonder when a divorcing parent should consider asking for the appointment of a guardian ad litem.

First Things First – What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

In reality, raising the question of when you may want to consider seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem in a divorce case involving children may be putting the proverbial cart before the horse. By this it is meant that you may be very much like most people seeking or involved in a divorce and now know what is meant by the term guardian ad litem.

A guardian ad litem is defined as a specific type of court-appointed guardian that is designed for a particular legal action. Courts have the power to appoint a guardian ad litem for a number of different classifications of individuals:

  • Infants
  • Other minor children
  • Mentally incompetent individuals

In divorce proceedings, a guardian ad litem is appointed to protect the interests of a child or children during the case. This type of appointment typically is made when a marriage dissolution case is particularly contentious.

Focus is Always on the Best Interests of a Child

The potential exists for a divorce case to become so contentious in regard to matters with the potential to impact a child or children that the best interests of these minors arguably could be at risk. For example, divorcing parents might be involved in a proverbial pitched battle over issues like child custody, parenting time, and child support. The circumstances may have reached such a pitch that the court determined a child or children need their own representative during marriage proceedings.

As made mention previously, a court typically appoints a guardian ad litem on its own motion or initiative to have an experienced person involved in the proceedings who has the legal duty to represent the interests of a child or children. A court can entertain a motion from a parent or even from both parents to appoint this type of representative in a particular divorce case.

Motion for Appointment of a Divorce Guardian Ad Litem

Legally and procedurally speaking, the process of a party to a divorce guardian ad litem begins with the filing of a motion with the court. In the motion, you need to set forth why you believe that the appointment of a divorce guardian ad litem is necessary to protect and preserve the best interests of your child or children.

Once you have filed such a motion, the other party to the marriage dissolution proceedings has the opportunity to prepare and present a written response to that motion. Once both parties have taken these steps, a court typically schedules a hearing on the matter. The court will take evidence at such a hearing to ascertain whether or not the appointment of a guardian ad litem is necessary in order to ensure that the interests of a child or children are suitably protected throughout the course of a New Jersey divorce.

If you are contemplating filing for divorce, or if your spouse has told you that is the direction he or she is headed, you can place yourself in the best position to protect your legal interests by retaining a capable New Jersey divorce lawyer sooner rather than later. We can schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation with an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney at your convenience.

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Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
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*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances