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Guardian Ad Litem In Family Law Cases
Who is protecting the best interests of the children in the judicial system? Judges especially in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have limited time for each case and often rely on guardian ad litems to prepare recommendations on what is in a child’s best interest. It is understandable that parents want the court to know what is happening in their child’s life. Unfortunately, the judicial systems in Broward County and Palm Beach County, Florida are often swamped with too many cases for each judge. As a parent, requesting an appointment of a guardian ad litem can ensure that a full investigation will occur and the court will have a report of what is happening in the child’s life.
In dissolution of marriage and paternity cases involving child custody and parental responsibility matters, a judge may appoint a guardian ad litem pursuant to the request of either parent, a third party, or upon the Court’s own motion. As a guardian ad litem, Rebekah Brown-Wiseman acts as a next friend of the court and performs the following duties:
- Conducts an independent investigation of the facts relevant to the child’s welfare;
- Assists the court in obtaining independent expert evaluations and recommendations, when appropriate;
- Presents facts to the court pertinent to the investigation and the best interest of the child; and
- Files a report with recommendations concerning the child’s best interest regarding custody and visitation arrangements, parental responsibility, educational, medical and financial needs and other concerns involving the welfare of the child
Understanding The Role Of A Guardian Ad Litem
Attorney Rebekah Brown-Wiseman carefully investigates the allegations affecting the child; conducts home visits; interviews the parents and child; interviews other relevant individuals who may include school teachers, relatives, neighbors, friends, health professionals, religious leaders, local community leaders and/or police officers involved with the child. As a family lawyer, Ms. Brown-Wiseman often reviews court pleadings, medical records, police reports, school records, psychological/psychiatric reports and/or child protective team investigations to gain a full understanding of the child’s life. All of this information is presented to the court in a written report, which includes a statement from the child, a summary of the investigation, an analysis and recommendations on what will be in the best interest of the child.
Rebekah Brown-Wiseman has been familiar with the how a guardian ad litem can make an enormous difference for a child since age thirteen, when she had the honor of having a guardian ad litem attorney appointed to represent her best interests. The guardian ad litem provided the court with the information to ensure that she regained a sense of love and happiness. Years later she continues this legacy.
As a former department of children and families attorney, Ms. Brown-Wiseman litigated dependency and termination of parental rights trials and contested evidentiary hearings including domestic violence, residential treatment, child custody, support and visitation matters. As a previous guardian ad litem program attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, Ms. Brown-Wiseman represented children’s best interests in dissolution of marriage, dependency and termination of parental rights matters. In private practice, Rebekah Brown-Wiseman represents clients in dissolution of marriage cases including child related matters of custody, visitation/timeshare, child support and domestic violence through negotiations and, when necessary, in court.
Rebekah Brown-Wiseman has worked with the Palm Beach County and Broward County guardian ad litem programs where she:
- Protects the rights of children involved in court proceedings
- Interviews children and other individuals who have information concerning the welfare of each child
- Requests and reviews documents which relate to children and their families
- Prepares independent recommendations to the court focusing on the needs of each child
- Prepares motions on behalf of the best interests of each child
- Connects families with services to facilitate a healthy environment for children
Ms. Brown-Wiseman has a master’s in social work with a concentration in children and families, and she is a member of the Broward County Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Contact The Firm
She is appointed as a guardian ad litem on both family law cases and dependency cases in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida. In general, family law cases are between parents litigating child custody, visitation and parental responsibility matters; whereas, dependency is a different class of cases where the state intervenes to protect a child’s welfare. Contact the firm to discuss your case and explore your options to have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent a child’s best interest.