A Guardian ad Litem is usually an attorney, a mental health professional (in Family Court), or a specially trained individual (in Dependency Court) who is ordered to investigate and provide information to the Court that serves the best interest of the child. A Guardian is typically called upon to interview parties involved with the child as well as to interview the child to obtain information that will help answer questions related to the matter of concern.
In Dependency Court, these questions can include whether the parent or child is receiving all of the necessary services so that the parent and child can be reconciled. A Dependency Court Guardian reviews documents, visits schools, speaks to teachers, parents, foster parents, coaches and medical professionals in an effort to understand what a child might need. Dr. Hohnecker has been involved with Guardian ad litem program in Broward County as a Guardian, trainer, and consultant.
Guardians also serve in Family Court where they typically work with families where there is a high level of conflict. Issues of alleged abuse, parental unsuitability, timesharing (formerly known as custody), parental decision-making, and other issues are common areas of investigation.
Dr. Hohnecker has served as a Guardian ad litem for 5 years in both Courts. She was recently selected to attend the Family Law Guardian ad Litem Pilot Training Program held in Fort Lauderdale with 30 other individuals selected from over the state.
Dr. Hohnecker becomes a Guardian ad Litem either through direct court appointment or by a mutual agreement of the parties and/or their attorneys. A common part of the Guardian’s report is the development of a parenting plan which includes timesharing issues.