Unbiased neutral information about the children and their families in custody issues is invaluable.
North Carolina judges seem to be placing greater value on the opinions of neural third parties in custody actions. But, expert witnesses that testify in court are cost prohibitive for most people. Most people simply cannot afford to pay $5,000 to $10,000 or more in addition to their legal fees to hire an expert to provide this testimony. And, experts hired by just one of the parties are hardly considered neutral.
In the face of these issues, more judges are appointing a Guardian ad Litem to provide truly neutral opinions on what is in the best interest of the child. In a growing number of cases, a Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the court to investigate the situation and make recommendations to the court regarding the child’s best interest. A Guardian ad Litem can be an attorney, but can also be a non-attorney.
The value of a Guardian ad Litem’s testimony is that it is coming to the court from a neutral source who is not advocating for one of the parents, but instead for the child. It is a truly objective look at the family and the child. Objective neutral information is hard to come by in a litigated family law case. That is why it is so highly valued by judges.
Collaborative divorce has long utilized child expert neutrals to provide the kind of objective unbiased information that a Guardian ad Litem can provide to a court. The major advantage of the Collaborative process is that it provides not just neutral input, but expert neutral input. The child/parenting neutrals that participate in the Collaborative Divorce process are trained therapists that specialize in children’s issues. They are experts on how children react to divorce and provide neutral, unbiased expert input as to how the children in a particular case are handling the separation and divorce. They also provide information on what the children will need moving forward to help them adjust to the new family situation in the healthiest way possible. And, because the child neutral is hired by both parties in a Collaborative Divorce, the information remains unbiased and objective.
The courts’ increasingly active pursuit of information from neutral third parties in the form of Guardian ad Litems reinforces the time-tested wisdom and value of the child neutral in the Collaborative Divorce process. The advantage of Collaborative Divorce is that this neutral information is more affordable and is provided by an expert in the field.
If you believe that obtaining neutral expert information about your children and their adjustment to the divorce would be helpful to your decision making, then you should consider obtaining that informaiton through the Collaborative Divorce process.