A guardian ad litem is appointed by the family court to get familiar with a minor child and the facts and circumstances surrounding the minor child’s custody and parenting issues.
When the guardian ad litem makes recommendations regarding custody and parenting time, the family court judge making decisions on those issues is likely to rely on the recommendations and observations of the guardian ad litem. If someone opposes the guardian ad litem’s report, they may need to request that the family court give them the opportunity to present evidence to counter the guardian’s recommendations. However, many family court judges are hesitant to preside over that kind of dispute, figuring that the court’s adoption of the guardian ad litem’s recommendation is something of a foregone conclusion. That is to say, it would require compelling evidence to convince the family court to disregard the guardian ad litem’s observations and recommendations. The family court may discourage the parties from proceeding with an evidentiary hearing, and encourage them to reach some kind of compromise to resolve the matter without a trial.
Ultimately, if someone is convinced that the guardian ad litem has not assessed the situation thoroughly, has not spent enough time to get to know the situation, or the decision that needs to be made is a close call, the family court is likely to hear the matter, and render a decision. If the party opposing the guardian ad litem’s recommendations has the support of a custody evaluator, parenting neutral, or child’s therapist, the family court is much more likely to rule in a manner that does not adopt the recommendations of the guardian ad litem.