Guardian Ad Litem recommendation not binding; Custody findings required; Property division must be fair, not necessarily equal

Recent Ruling: Court not required to follow Guardian Ad Litem Recommendation, Specific findings under the 8 statutory factors required in Judge tried case

Father appeals from the trial court’s dissolution judgment as to child custody and property division in favor of his former spouse, Mother. Father asserts that the trial court erred by: (1) failing to make specific findings of fact supporting its custody award as required by statute; (2) determining custody without the recommendation of the guardian ad litem; and (3) awarding Mother $108,500 as her interest in the marital residence

Case Reversed

No law requires guardian ad litem to make a recommendation or circuit court to follow it. However, statute provides that any custody arrangement not agreed to by the parties must have support in specific findings of fact. With regard to the marital property, the source-of-the-funds rule provides that property acquired during the marriage with funds part marital and part separate is part marital and part separate, but division of property need not be equal, only fair and equitable.

No. ED102196

Eastern District Court of Appeals

Filed November 3, 2015