Guardian Ad Litem
Orlando Certified Guardian Ad Litem
Lisa A. G. Smith, Esquire, in addition to being a family law attorney, is a certified Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) through the State of Florida's Guardian Ad Litem Program.
A GAL is typically appointed or requested in cases wherein there are allegations of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. A GAL provides a voice for children who otherwise might not be heard. A GAL is an advocate of the child, not the parent(s).
GALs testify in court as to the best interests and needs of the child. The GAL will independently gather information throughout the duration of the case through interviews with the child and any person or professional who may have pertinent information dealing with the well-being of the child. The GAL can also collect and examine records from many sources concerning the child. The GAL assures that the child's wishes are heard and presents information through verbal and written reports to the court to assist in a determination as to what is in the child's best interests.
The fees for a GAL can be costly and are paid for by the parties. Typically, a retainer is paid up front for the GAL's services, but this retainer must be replenished if it is depleted and there is more work that is necessary to be done for the GAL to properly carry out his or her role.