Guardian Ad Litem in Family Court Matters
Custody, Modification, Enforcement, Relocation
A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a person appointed by a family court to represent the best interests of a child or a vulnerable individual who is involved in legal proceedings. The GAL may be a lawyer with special training, may be a mental health provider (also with special training) or may be a specially trained/educated professional. Family matter GAL’s are not free as you find in the DCF or Dependency court system. The Family matter GAL’s role is to independently gather information, assess the situation(s), and advocate for the well-being, safety, and rights of the child or at-risk individual throughout the legal process. They provide recommendations to the court based on their assessment to ensure that decisions made by the court prioritize the best interests of the person or child(ren) they represent.
A Family GAL must be appointed by the court but either party may make a request to the court to appoint a GAL. It is always best when the parties agree to the appointment of the Family GAL however the Judge in your matter may order the appointment based on the need. There are other options such as a social investigation, reunification interventions, counseling, psychological or substance use evaluations and all the recommendations that come from these activities. It is not unusual for a Family GAL to include in her report recommendations for additional services such as reunification work, evaluations, and other services (parenting effectiveness classes are one such service that many legal matters can benefit from before, during, or after the legal case.)
Attorney Bonnie Klein Rhoden is an experienced, knowledgeable family lawyer handling all types of cases ranging from adoptions, to guardianships, to custody matters, and is also a Family Law Guardian Ad Litem. Her undergraduate work at Florida Institute of Technology resulted in the designation of summa cum laude in obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Business. Bonnie focused on forensic psychology prior to continuing to obtain her Juris Doctorate. Special training as a dependency court Guardian Ad Litem and Attorney Ad Litem as well as family Legal Guardian Ad Litem.
Consultations are as easy as calling, texting, or emailing the office. Bonnie is typically available same day and is known to return calls after hours and on weekends. Office 321-549-3162 (text or call) and email using the contact form here on the website.