Protecting Individuals with Mental and Physical Disabilities in the Family Court System

In the family law arena, we often encounter individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The Court has implemented various safeguards for these persons in order to assure that they have fair and equal access to the justice system.


For children whose best interest may be unclear due to the current dissolution proceedings of their parents or if the parents disagree as to the child’s best interest, a Court may appoint, or the parties may hire, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL).

The GAL’s primary duty is to advocate for the best interest of the child. This is particularly helpful in high conflict scenarios or situations where the child has a mental, developmental, or physical disability. If an adult has a mental or physical disability that impairs their judgment as it relates to their particular case, a GAL may also be hired to advocate for this individual’s best interest.

Children and adults with mental and physical disabilities can seek help and treatment from the State of Florida. Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is the state agency that provides an array of services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Some of APD’s services include occupational and physical therapy, mental health services, and behavior therapy. APD’s goal is to make the individual with the disability as independent as possible. There are particular steps necessary to quality for APD’s services. For more information please visit the following website:

It is important to remember that persons with mental or physical disabilities deserve the same opportunities within our court system as do those without such hindrances. Please contact our office for more information on how you can protect those who are limited in their ability to protect themselves.

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