It seems like common sense that a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is held legally accountable for their actions, especially those that harm or endanger the child they are supposed to be representing. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

In my case, the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) has not only been biased but blatantly ignored the safety of my children. The GAL refused to gather information (police reports, doctor reports,  home visits, etc) , refused to question witnesses, ignored statements by the children and has come up with “evidence” based on her own ignorant conclusions. In a stunning case of logic, my GAL has declared that since my abusive ex-husband has a “house, a job, and a car” that he is no threat to me! My GAL’s reports are often late, have inaccuracies in them and at times she has simply failed to gather needed information (and went to court without it, even testifying before a judge). That this is the person supposed to represent my children’s best interests is simply unacceptable.

I can share so many horror stories about my Guardian ad Litem…  I have reverted to survival tactics I used with my abusive ex-husband now with the GAL. I keep silent. I avoid eye contact. I try to go unnoticed. I put a positive spin on even the worst situation. And I cry unheard tears.

The Guardian ad Litem seems to have unlimited power and expertise.

In my case, the GAL has gone way beyond her position…she seems to always have the answer (must be psychic!) even if she has not gathered any information or is not knowledgeable about a subject. My GAL has advocated for my abusive ex husband by offering him legal advise, granting him priveleges I am denied, and making excuses for his bad behavior (or telling me that my children are lying or exagerating when their reports about their father are unfavorable to her cause).

The word of the Guardian ad Litem is taken as truth in court. Their actions and conclusions are rarely, if ever questioned or assessed for accuracy.  In case when parents have been stripped of their legal rights, or forced to share legal rights with an abuser, it is nearly impossible to get a second opinion. A second opinion will usually be viewed with scorn and skepticism. Dr. Gardner, the inventor of Parental Alienation Syndrome, has boldy delcared that mothers manipulate psychologists and other professionals to support them–and such people should not be believed. It is nearly impossible to request a new GAL, and there may be repercussions for doing so. Parents are forced into silence because in speaking out they face retribution or worse, losing custody of their children.

Here we can anonymously speak out…tell our stories…in hopes someone will listen, and join us in fighting for change in the family court system, and in fighting for better lives for our children.

I encourage you, leave your story in the comments section below. Or if you have a link or resource to help fight against family court injustice, leave it below. We can’t give up–our children’s lives are at risk.

Evanlee, 2009.

 This was forwarded to me…

 

GAL/Minor’s counsel does not have immunity for actions that cause child harm

January 18, 2006

Maryland Court of Appeals Fox v. Wills

http://www.unitedforjustice. com/Mdcourtappeals.htm

 

In a precedent setting opinion, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that counsel appointed on behalf of a minor is not an arm of the court.  He or she has a duty to the child and does not have immunity from tort liability for actions that cause harm to the child.

The attorney, Vincent Wills, was appointed by the court to represent a young girl, K., as a guardian ad litem (GAL) during her parents’ divorce. Following judgment in the divorce case, Elizabeth Ritter, the child’s mother, filed a suit on her daughter’s behalf charging Wills with legal malpractice. It was alleged that Wills abdicated his responsibilities as counsel for the child, that he did not act in accordance with K.’s best interests, and that he was in fact an advocate for the child’s father who was suspected of sexually abusing Katherine. The complaint further alleged that Wills ignored the trial court’s orders in that he failed to ensure that the child’s father was supervised during visitation, that he failed to ensure that Katherine was placed in a car seat when transported during visitations, that he failed to address the issue of the father’s inappropriate touching of Katherine, and that he failed to address the numerous reports of the father’s inappropriate exhibitions of anger in front of Katherine. The complaint also alleged that Wills deliberately prevented evidence of child sexual abuse from coming before the court by suppressing and distorting the report of a psychological expert appointed by the court to evaluate the claims of abuse. The report had advised against unsupervised visitation between the child and her father. Wills filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that, because of his position as counsel for the child under Maryland Family Law Article § 1-202, he was functioning on behalf of and for the benefit of the court and was thus entitled to “absolute quasi-judicial immunity.” Alternatively, Wills argued that, even if he were not entitled to “absolute quasi-judicial immunity,” he was entitled to “qualified immunity,” and that the allegations of the complaint were insufficient to show the malice needed to overcome qualified immunity. The Circuit Court granted the motion to dismiss, stating “that there is clearly privilege here or immunity, whether it is qualified or quasi-judicial. ” The plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Special Appeals also affirmed. The Maryland Supreme Court reversed holding that an attorney appointed to represent a child in a divorce case is “is not by statute or rule rendered any more ‘an arm of the court’ than other Maryland attorneys.”

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