URGENT UPDATE: Thursday March 28th Trying To Change A Broken System. Why GAL (guardian ad litem) reform is needed now.
My friend is going through a divorce. It has been going on well over a year now. You would think that it taking this long means there are lots of assets to split; a house, cars, a huge income to divide, maybe a big retirement account? No, that isn't the case. It's the issue parents argue most about in a case of an acrimonious divorce, the custody of a child.
Because the parents could not agree on the time division or primary residence for their now 8 year old boy, a guardian ad litem (GAL) was appointed to the case. She was supposed to mediate 'in the best interest of the child' and help the parents reach an agreed on division of the boys time. The case started with the mother and the son living in another state with the mother facing prison time for repeatedly driving under the influence and finally driving without a license.
The GAL, who is supposed to be a neutral party, decided to write a letter on social worker letterhead on the mother's behalf to try and keep her out of prison declaring that the son, who the GAL had never met, had the potential of becoming a 'Unabomber' with other possible terrorists being listed; now remember she had written this before ever having met the child.
Her being a GAL has kept her free from any real complaint process, there is no forum for complaints or lawsuits against a GAL (guardian ad litem) except filing a complaint with the presiding judge that appointed her, due to that, the judge must admit he or she was wrong in appointing her, therefore the complaint going forward is not likely to happen. That is one of the things that we are trying to change. Social workers and lawyers have to face sanctions and lawsuits when they are deficient or incompetent or biased as this GAL was, why shouldn't she and other GALs face major consequences for their incompetence?
The bill presented to my friend defies logic. Items that read 'wrote email' and 'made phone call' with no detail or explanation; how that totals over $11,000 is not only unknown, it's obscene.The parents inability to pay should have been considered as in case, Desmond vs Desmond where the parents made more than my friend does now.
Another part of this that needs changing is that the judicial system is where the guardian ad litem profession is presently housed. This allows for an incestuous relationship between the lawyer who may be representing one of the parties in the case who recommends the GAL to the judge, who then appoints her to the case. Take the GAL position and move it to the executive branch, away from the 'love triangle' of judge, lawyer and GAL. If that for some reason, cannot happen, as 5 state audits have suggested should happen, then let's figure something out. To continually ignore audits and reviews that expose and outline problems with this broken system is criminal.
UPDATE: My friend is able to pay just $25.00 per month to this sham of a guardian ad litem as his divorce lawyer and child support eat up one half of his income, his existence depends on the remainder of his salary. The other night a letter from the GAL's attorney came in the mail asking he pay the balance or face court action! The Guardian ad litem system is still a mess and bankrupting people daily.
Join the fight against injustice and the family court system as it stands today!
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