What Is Guardian Ad Litem in New Jersey Divorce?

A guardian ad litem advocates for children in custody and divorce cases

During a divorce, one of the most difficult and emotional decisions is getting agreement on child custody arrangements. The court’s primary objective is to look out for what is in the best interest of the child(ren).

To determine the appropriate custody arrangement, according to NJ law, the court will consider:

  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody
  • A history of being unwilling to allow parenting time when there is no evidence of abuse
  • The interactions and relationships among the child and his/her parents and siblings
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Keeping the child and parent safe from physical abuse by the other parent
  • The child’s preference (if the child is old enough and mature enough to form a reasoned opinion)
  • The needs of the child
  • The stability of the home environment
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education
  • The fitness of the parents
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The extent and quality of the time spent with the child before or after the parents separated
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities
  • The age and number of the children

Since these factors can be difficult for the court to properly investigate, the court may appoint an advocate to act on behalf of the child.

Role of the guardian ad litem in New Jersey child custody and divorce cases

This advocate or “guardian ad litem” is not a custodial guardian. The role of a court-appointed guardian ad litem is to protect the legal interests of the child. Guardians ad litem are sometimes used by New Jersey courts in custody and divorce cases. They are in charge of determining the activities and outcomes that are best for the child.

The Guardian ad litem investigates the factors above and makes recommendations to the judge about custody and visitation. The recommendations are based on interviews and discussions with:

  • The judge
  • The child and each parent
  • The attorneys for each parent
  • Siblings and other family members
  • Educators and medical professionals
  • Other people with relevant information

The guardian ad litem may also gather relevant documents and testimony from independent experts that can be used as evidence in the custody hearing. Based on the information gathered, the court will order an appropriate custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. Your New Jersey divorce attorney can advise you on the best way to interact with a court-appointed guardian ad litem.

New Brunswick, NJ lawyer provides representation in child custody cases

Attorney Steven Cytryn knows how sensitive child custody cases can be. He provides compassionate and aggressive advocacy for you and your child during your custody and divorce proceedings. If you’re involved in a custody case, let us help you get the best outcome for you and your children. Contact the Law Offices of Steven M. Cytryn online or at (732) 214-1103.

Steven M. Cytryn
About the Author: Steven Cytryn
Steven M. Cytryn is the Managing Member of The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC, and primarily focuses his practice on divorce and family law matters.