As a Florida State Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and a Qualified Parenting Coordinator, Dr. Coughlin hopes that all families coming apart might cooperate to develop a mutually agreeable Parenting Plan that represents the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. Parents, attorneys for the parents or the Court may initiate an order to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). A GAL is appointed to assist all parties in determining what will be in the best interests of the child(ren).
Dr. Coughlin begins her GAL investigations by meeting with each parent to identify the parent’s perspectives regarding the children. The next step in the process is to meet the children. Adolescents are often invited to meet with Dr. Coughlin in the office followed by meetings at home, school, or another public location. Meetings with older children (10 and over) will be individual in addition to joint with each parent. Younger children may be seen in sibling groups in addition to in the company of each parent. The determination of the number of sessions held with each parent and the child(ren) is determined on a case-by-case basis.
GAL work also includes collecting collateral information. Collateral information may pertain to each parent or the child(ren). Types of collateral information include: school records, medical records, phone interviews with family members and friends, mental health evaluations, etc.
The initial retainer for a Guardian ad Litem Investigations is $3,000. All fees will be collected at the start of the investigation. Determination of responsibility for the fees is usually made through Court Order. $1,000 of the initial retainer is non-refundable once the case has been opened.
Please contact the office if you are considering appointing Dr. Coughlin as a Guardian ad Litem for your child(ren). She will be happy to consult with you and your attorney.
Dr. Coughlin’s time is billed at the rate of $225 per hour prorated to the ¼ hour. A detailed billing statement will be available upon request. Fees for Guardian ad Litem services include face-to-face visits, document review, telephone consults with collateral sources (teachers, physicians, friends and extended family members), written reports and any other activities deemed necessary to satisfactorily complete the investigation.