Guardian Ad Litems Are Allowed to Supplement the Reports
Video Transcribed: I’m a Tulsa father’s rights attorney and today I’d like to talk to you guys about dealing with a negative guardian ad litem report. Court-appointed your guardian ad litem. You have the report back. It’s not favorable. It’s not looking good.
They’re recommending something like you get your visitation restricted, or you have joint custody, they’re recommending dissolving it. So what do you do? Well, the first thing is don’t panic. It’s not good if the guardian ad litem recommends something that is contrary to what you want or contrary to your interests, but understands that the guardian ad litem’s recommendations are just that, they’re recommendations. They are not binding on the court. Although most courts do consider them persuasive, the court isn’t locked into what the guardian ad litem recommends in their report. So don’t panic.
The second thing is you want to talk to your attorney about one of two things, depending on the nature of your case and what the facts are, and what your goals are. You either want to look at trying to negotiate something with the other side that’s more favorable than what the guardian ad litem is recommending, or that you’re talking about having your attorney really go hard and discredit the guardian ad litem, which can be done. I mean, I’ve gone to court and won cases where I had an unfavorable guardian ad litem report. It’s not necessarily devastating. It just means you have to fight your case that much harder.
But the main things are, if your attorney comes back and tells you there’s an unfavorable guardian ad litem report, then you really need to talk about a settlement option or do we want to go really try to go after and discredit the report. Either could be an option. It really depends on the facts of your case. In an extreme case, it may also be a situation where you may be dealing with some bias, in which case your attorney can also address that.
It’s been my experience, the majority of the time, guardian ad litems are fair, and they try to be neutral third parties on behalf of the interests of the children. But the other thing is, is guardian ad litems are human. And like on the other human being, we all have our own viewpoint. We all have our own internal values, and those can sometimes unconsciously affect what you think so.
So if you’re dealing with an extreme case, you might have your attorney explore a motion to remove the guardian ad litem. Or if it’s not quite at that level, at the very least, it would be worth discussing with them how best to contradict whatever it is the guardian ad litem is telling the court is going on or telling the court should happen. Because again, it’s not a done deal just because guardian ad litem says X.
A couple of things to understand too, about how they’re supposed to do their investigation. They are supposed to act as a disinterested third party on behalf of the minor children. They do act as an arm of the court. So they operate as an investigative tool to court.
They’re supposed to maintain their objectivity vis-a-vis the parties. They’re not allowed to give legal advice. And one thing to be aware of when you talk to the guardian ad litem is that what you say is not privileged and it can and will go into their report. So just be aware of that. This person is not your attorney. So when you interact with them, that’s something to be aware of.
And one thing to be aware of as well in the spirit of trying to avoid problems is when you deal with the guardian ad litem, always deal with them professionally, even if they say or do something you dislike.
Always, always, always deal with them professionally. Because keep in mind, it’s not private and whatever you say or do in your dealings with the guardian ad litem is going to ultimately get reported back to your judge. So one thing to be aware of in avoiding the unfavorable report is to deal professionally with the guardian ad litem.
But if you are facing that unfavorable report, you definitely want to get with your lawyer and start strategizing on how you might either discredit that report or if you’re dealing with a situation that warrants it, negotiation might be in order. Mediation might be order, because it may be you can work something out with the other side that is more favorable than what the guardian ad litem is recommending.
Although you should be aware, and I do want to add this, that anytime you have the guardian ad litem involved, they do have to sign off on an approved settlement. You can’t go around them if they believe that whatever it is that you’re trying to agree to is definitely not in the best interest of the children.
But there is the possibility for something between what they’re saying they… what they’re recommending and what you like, in some cases. And again, negotiation may be worthwhile. Also, further investigation can be worthwhile. Guardian ad litems are also allowed to supplement the reports, so maybe you could provide additional information or additional evidence that might mitigate some of what’s going on in that report. Guys, if you do need help and you find yourself facing an unfavorable guardian ad litem report or you have any other questions, go to dads.law, where dads are not disposable.