What is a guardian ad litem?

What is a guardian ad litem?

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Atlanta-based My Advocate Center's Deb Beacham said it's a seemingly simple assignment that oftentimes becomes skewed.

"Many of these cases, frankly, the children wound up with the parent most likely to cause stress or injury to the child," Beacham said.

Beacham said that's not to say all guardian ad litems are bad.

"They're research analysts," she said. "They get to look at the daily lives of the children, how the children function when they're with one parent compared to the other."

She said attorneys can request one for their clients, and oftentimes, the judge can appoint one at their discretion.

But Beacham said there aren't a lot of requirements or training involved.

Guardians don't have to be an attorney or have a psychology background.

"There's no consistency of the training, or credentials, for a guardian ad litem from county to county, so we're looking at that. There's no objective standard on how each parent is evaluated, to counter-balance the subjective reports presented to the courts."

Atlanta lawyer Lisa West released this statement about guardian ad litems:

"Unfortunately, such instances of tainted investigations by guardians ad litem are not uncommon. And, the effects of these investigations can be absolutely devastating - - from children of sexual abuse being placed squarely into the hands of their abusers to children being ripped from the arms of their primary caretaker forever. There is no doubt that the guardian ad litem system must undergo a complete overhaul."

For more resources, head over to the My Advocate Center website.

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