(1) A guardian ad litem shall be appointed by the court at the earliest possible time to represent the child in any child abuse, abandonment, or neglect judicial proceeding, whether civil or criminal. Any person participating in a civil or criminal judicial proceeding resulting from such appointment shall be presumed prima facie to be acting in good faith and in so doing shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that otherwise might be incurred or imposed.
(2) In those cases in which the parents are financially able, the parent or parents of the child shall reimburse the court, in part or in whole, for the cost of provision of guardian ad litem services. Reimbursement to the individual providing guardian ad litem services shall not be contingent upon successful collection by the court from the parent or parents.
(3) Upon presentation by a guardian ad litem of a court order appointing the guardian ad litem:

(a) An agency, as defined in chapter 119, shall allow the guardian ad litem to inspect and copy records related to the best interests of the child who is the subject of the appointment, including, but not limited to, records made confidential or exempt from s. 119.07(1) or s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. The guardian ad litem shall maintain the confidential or exempt status of any records shared by an agency under this paragraph.

Terms Used In Florida Statutes 39.822

  • abandonment: means a situation in which the parent or legal custodian of a child or, in the absence of a parent or legal custodian, the caregiver, while being able, has made no significant contribution to the child's care and maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
  • Abuse: means any willful act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child's physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
  • Guardian: means a relative, nonrelative, next of kin, or fictive kin who is awarded physical custody of a child in a proceeding brought pursuant to this chapter. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
  • Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and a man whose consent to the adoption of the child would be required under…. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
  • person: includes individuals, children, firms, associations, joint adventures, partnerships, estates, trusts, business trusts, syndicates, fiduciaries, corporations, and all other groups or combinations. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
  • Substance abuse: means using, without medical reason, any psychoactive or mood-altering drug, including alcohol, in such a manner as to induce impairment resulting in dysfunctional social behavior. See Florida Statutes 1001.38
(b) A person or organization, other than an agency under paragraph (a), shall allow the guardian ad litem to inspect and copy any records related to the best interests of the child who is the subject of the appointment, including, but not limited to, confidential records.

For the purposes of this subsection, the term “records related to the best interests of the child” includes, but is not limited to, medical, mental health, substance abuse, child care, education, law enforcement, court, social services, and financial records.

(4) The guardian ad litem or the program representative shall review all disposition recommendations and changes in placements, and must be present at all critical stages of the dependency proceeding or submit a written report of recommendations to the court. Written reports must be filed with the court and served on all parties whose whereabouts are known at least 72 hours prior to the hearing.