The determination of child custody is far and away the most heartbreaking and difficult part of the divorce process, for both the parents and the children involved. While both parents undoubtedly want what is best for the child, they may not agree on what the best course of action would be, and bitter litigation can ensue. This is why Texas law provides for a qualified professional to step in and advocate for the child’s best interests in child custody cases.
What a Guardian Ad Litem is
Typically, both spouses will have their own legal representation in a divorce proceeding. The role of the parents’ attorneys is primarily to fight for the interests of their client. This means that, if both parents want full custody of their children, then the parents’ attorneys will each fight to obtain a custody award for their clients.
A Guardian Ad Litem, on the other hand, is not beholden to either parent. Their sole objective is to assess the situation, determine which outcome would best provide the child with a healthy and stable environment in which to grow up, and then recommend that course of action to the court. They advocate for the child even when the child’s best interest conflicts with what would be convenient for one or both parents.
How a Guardian Ad Litem determines what is best for the child
A Guardian Ad Litem can consider a wide variety of information before making their final recommendation to the court. If the child is old enough, the Guardian may interview the child and determine what their wishes are. However, the child’s desires are not necessarily binding – meaning that the Guardian may recommend an outcome different from what the child wants, if the Guardian is convinced that it is in the child’s best interest to do so.
Guardians Ad Litem typically explore every possible custody arrangement. Like all officials of a family law court, the Guardian will try their best to accommodate a situation in which the child can have a healthy and stable relationship with both parents, because – unless there is abuse involved – children are most often better off when they are not deprived of access to one of their parents.
Looking out for the interests of the children in a divorce is an essential role, because they are the most vulnerable parties with the least degree of control over how the divorce will affect their lives. Guardians Ad Litem perform this essential role in order to ensure that the divorce process ends in the best possible outcome for the children involved.