Interview with Attorney Jeff Weissman on the Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Family Court

Jeff Weissman is a partner at Gladstone & Weissman, P.A. The firm specializes in family and marital law, providing representation in areas including divorce, child custody, child support, and paternity cases. Mr. Weissman is also a Supreme Court Certified Guardian Ad Litem; in this position he makes recommendations for the best interests of children in family court proceedings.

What exactly is a Guardian Ad Litem?

Jeff Weissman: A Guardian Ad Litem is a person appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of a child. They are often appointed in cases of child abuse and neglect. They may also be appointed to look out for a child’s best interests during a custody dispute or adoption. In Florida, there are two types of Guardian Ad Litem. Some are volunteers from the community who receive extensive training and work primarily with abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Others are attorneys, who may work in the foster care system, or be appointed to serve in family law cases.

How does a Guardian Ad Litem advocate for children?

Jeff Weissman: A Guardian Ad Litem performs an independent investigation and talks to all of the parties involved in the case. For example, they may interview teachers, neighbors, and grandparents. They also monitor ongoing situations. Based on their investigations and monitoring, they make recommendations to the court that they believe are in the best interests of the child.

How does one determine what is in a child’s best interests?

Jeff Weissman: Partially based on training and partially on common sense. Typically, the investigation helps me uncover what is in a child’s best interests. I do ask the child what they want, but that does not necessarily mean I will recommend what he or she requests. Sometimes what a child wants and what is in his or her best interests are two different things. As a Guardian, I have a duty to report the child’s desires to the judge, but make my own recommendations that are independent from the minor, their parents, or other parties to the case.

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Jeff Weissman Attorney

Board certified in Marital and Family Law, attorney Jeff Weissman has been called to present at numerous conferences and seminars. He also authored the Parental Relocation Law, Section 61.13001, which was enacted in the State of Florida in 2006. Jeff Weissman has presented regularly for the Florida Bar Association, Family Law Section. In late 2010, Weissman spoke on practical and theoretical aspects of evidence within a family law context. Earlier that year, he gave a seminar on practice and procedure, which was attended by over 1,000 attorneys and other legal professionals from across Florida. In 2009, Jeff Weissman led seminars on equitable distribution and development of time-sharing parenting plans. He also moderated a judicial panel on parental relocation issues. These events each attracted hundreds of legal professionals. In addition, Weissman led basic family law seminars in Miami and Tampa, covering issues such as attorney’s fees, methods for determining jurisdiction, and practices and procedures. Jeff Weissman has also accepted speaking engagements in the corporate sector. Jeff Weissman studied at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, graduating in 1994. He has focused on family and marital law since that time, and he has served as a Partner at Gladstone & Weissman, P.A. for more than a decade. Weissman holds two Florida Supreme Court certifications: as a Mediator and a Guardian Ad Litem. He has been recognized with numerous professional awards, including repeat listings in Florida Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America.

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