Anyone have a guardian ad litem (lawyer for child) appointed (see more)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    by judge for a custody battle? I am amazed at how invasive getting custody is when both sides are contesting. I wondered what the GAL does and who makes the final decision and what the poor child is asked. Little J. is incredibly bright, insightful and has a parrot-like memory and hates to be asked questions about either of his parents, although his recall and opinions are amazing for a five year old. Lots of uber-brilliant people in my family, especially the men, and seems like Little J. got that, but I'm not sure that's an asset in this case. He knows exactly what is going on and will talk about it to my son. But he is very shy with strangers. Another trait of our family genes.

    I feel so bad for little J. He didn't ask for a divorce or for mom to run off with another man and now she wants full custody/and wants son to have minimal parenting time and to pay more. She is trying to alienate grandson toward my son, but it won't work. One thing I can say for 35 is he loves his son to death and his son is well aware and clings to him every time he is together with little J. and his mom and her new honeybuns. Right now they have joint custody and fifty per cent parenting time each and my son is digging in his heels and has a good attorney to fight for his rights. Ex is nuttier than him, even on a bad day.

    I keep hearing around this GAL and how important she is. I'm not sure what kind of investigation she can do. She's a lawyer, not a social worker. Any feedback?
     
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Getting a GAL is a process all of it's own. I have found that it happens when the judge finds that neither parent is fit. Does your county have a mediation service? Usually when they do the court orders a "Family Study" to be done in contested custody matters. It's truly and independent report and they interview everyone alone, and the child with both parents.
     
  3. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    The GAL was already ordered. The ex made late unfounded allegations of verbal abuse so they got a GAL. I'm more interested in what they do. Curiousity is up. Neither of these two are going to end up looking like stellar people. That I'm sure of. I'm hoping my grandson is strong enough to deal with two parents who have their own mental health problems. Trust me, his life is going to be....well, he's so mature maybe he'll be the parent in the end. I'm serious too.

    They were ordered to go to mediation, and they went, but before they went, ex told him, "I'm not going to agree to anything. I want full legal and physical custody." She cried and whined at mediation and the mediator yelled at her, but mediation isn't allowed in the trial. Too bad. My son is able to stay very composed when put on the spot (not with me, but with other people). So it was a waste of time, really. She has no interest in settling, even for my grandson's well being. This is going to go all the way to trial. My son is just lucky his dad is funding such a good lawyer.
     
  4. Signorina

    Signorina Well-Known Member

    My experience is anecdotal but iirc some states (counties?) always appoint a GAL even when the parents are on the same page- just part if the process.

    Presumably, the mom's point of view is also in the mom's best interests. Likewise, the dad's point of view is in the dad's best interests. The GAL isn't there to represent or discern the child's point of view but IS there to discern & represent the child's best interests.

    I think of a GAL as a good thing generally
     
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Well-Known Member

    MWM... The GAL appointed for Onyxx & Jett seemed like a true-blue sonofa------- when we talked to him. And then... Biomom's latest allegation was determined to be unfounded and suddenly he seemed a lot nicer. Still, we were SHOCKED when his report came out in favor of DH having custody. However... There were a lot of things that were much worse than what J's mother is CURRENTLY doing.

    I will try to send you the report...
     
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I served as a GAL for two years. The Judge has to request or OK the use of a GAL. In Florida the GALs are volunteers who go through around twenty or thirty hours of training and are independent of both sides. We visit relatives, ask questions, visit schools, daycares, MD's etc. and then make an independent recommendation based on what is "in the best interests of the child". Our reports and recommendations are in writing with a copy to the Judge, and a copy to each side. We present our reports in Court. My BIL was a GAL in another State and they only use attorneys. It is a difficult job as everyone puts on their best face. Most of my time was spent with the children and I had the hardest time when babies were involved. Sigh. I know it's hard, MWM. Hugs DDD
     
  7. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    A family study is different than mediation. It's usually done by the same office within the family court, though. Most judges will give them more weight based upon their not having been hired by anyone. Since the GAL is already appointed, someone must have realized that your grandson needs an advocate in his corner. Sadly, attorneys will fight for as long as you pay their fees. Where is she getting the fees for her attorney?
     
  8. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    DD, thankfully it's not a volunteer in Missouri. They are lawyers. I would really hate a volunteer who had an inflated place in my son's life doing the investigation. I prefer even the lawyer.
     
  9. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Member

    In Texas, what DDD did is called a CASA worker or Court Appointed Special Advocates. My grandson had one when he was removed from his mother. This CASA worker did all the things DDD stated she did. This is a volunteer position. As it turned out, his CASA worker was not the best representative for the courts and was relieved from her position in the court system after my grandson's case. I witnessed numerous hearings in family court (CPS) when my grandson was involved with the foster care system and the CASA workers did an excellent job.

    When we placed our GFG out of our home at 16 yrs. of age, she was appointed a guardian ad litem. He is an attorney and a social worker. He is an advocate for the mentally ill and protects their rights. I think our GFG was VERY lucky to have him looking out for her best interests. I respected the man then and even though I have had no contact with him for many years, I still respect the work that he does.

    I don't think it matters if an advocate for your grandson is an attorney or lay person. One would hope this advocate has the ability to not involve themselves in the drama and chaos surrounding your grandson and can discern what his best interests are.
     
  10. Dixies_fire

    Dixies_fire Member

    Just wanted to point out that the GAL is always supposed to be representing the child's best interest, some of them do a better job then others. Out of all the people your son deals with he should ALWAYS try to be square with the GAL, his or her opinion is right next to the judge's in importance and the judge will most likely take whatever recommendation the GAL gives. My nieces had a gal.
    The GAL that we had did not initiate contact with my sister, my sister would have to call the GAL. I don't know if that is the ordinary process if your son still has representation he should ask how it should work, but the GAL absolutely needs to know how dedicated 35 is to J.
     
  11. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    Thanks, all. It appears there is a vast difference in states!! Missouri only uses lawyers. Some states use social workers. Some volunteers. (I am learning). My son is taking a crash course in GAL 101. Since both parents have done some iffy things regarding the child, it is going to be a long one. My son didn't know how carefully you have to watch your mouth around the child and ex is blatantly disregarding the parenting plan and doing whatever she wants to do without even telling my son about it. She didn't even put his name down as a contact for the YMCA or school, which will come back as parental alientation since she put down her live-in's name and called him stepfather. She didn't put my son's name down at all. He had to go to school and get that for his attorney's records. He has a very good attorney, on his father's dime, who is going to coach him before he sees the GAL, whom the lawyer knows well. My son is very capable of looking calm, cool, and collected. Ex has a harder time and is struggling to pay her attorney's fees and is prone to lashing out about my son and how he abused her (she has no proof) and she does not stay on topic about the best interests of the child. This should be interesting. As I've said many times, neither of them are that stable, yet neither are doing things that would make a judge even consider removing them from their custody and they both are asking f or full physical and legal custody, although my son who knows this won't happen on either side says that fifty per cent visitation for both of them is "in the best interests of t he child."

    Thank you very much, Step, for that extra bit of help. It was very interesting, to say the least!
     
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Well-Known Member

    Here, a CASA is a volunteer and a GAL is a lawyer...
     
  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    we have a different name here in Canada, but my PC has had one, twice. Once when very young and she was unaware of who this mystery woman was. It went well for us, wasn't a bad experience. Again last year, which with her age caused much pain and anxiety and hurt for her. I hope the two of them can get real about "best interest" on their own and learn to work together even through their issues with each other, they can and need to put those aside and focus on the child. The GAL will certainly be cautious of both parents if neither is able to be level headed. Not just interacting with the GAL but in everyday life surrounding coparenting.
     
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Btw, in some cases a GAL in one State will contact a CASA office in another for help. I had a bioDad in Michigan and a dying bioMom in Florida where the Grandma wanted custody. The CASA worker did a home visit etc. in Michigan so I would know what the children would be facing. In fact the end result was aok. Thru the Fl Court the Dad was awarded custody following his wife's death but working in tandem with the CASA worker he had to attend AA/Na meetings, have unannounced home visits for a year and submit school and medical records to CASA for that year too. My heart broke for the Grandma but the "best interests of the children" resulted. It was unusual. DDD
     
  15. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Moderator Staff Member

    Im very surprised she didnt put on her best face for that mediation because here, if the parents cant come to a reasonable parenting plan which the mediator thinks is fair, the judge frowns upon the one who was most irritating.

    I dont believe I ever had to work with a GAL or even a CASA worker when I divorced my first husband. My ex wrote a really stupid letter to the judge and the judge immediately ordered me full custody saying the letter proved my ex was an idiot..lol.

    I have known some social workers who were one of the two here. I do know that both are supposed to be basically the child's lawyer and they work in the best interest of the child and the court does rely on them quite a bit because both parents are not going to be exactly unbiased.
     
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am astounded at this woman. Around here there is almost never deviation from the shared parenting plan where each parent gets the kid for half of the week. I do mean NEVER. But a parent who does the things your son's ex is doing can find herself with extremely limited visitation and a psych eval to get any unsupervised visitation at all. The judges who hear divorce and custody issues are not at all patient with parents like your son's ex.

    She sounds almost as bad as my uncle's first ex. Her divorce lawyer actually found another career after their divorce. The judge flat out told her that he was going giving everything she asked for to her ex because of how terrible she was as a wife, a mother and a person. She was that far into crazyland. Judges do NOT like to deal with that. She did some truly hilariously sick things during the home study. The social worker who evaluated the family was a lovely woman, and my uncle's ex called her all sorts of racial epithets including the N word both in documents submitted to the court and to the woman's face. THen his ex couldn't figure out why the woman said she should not have custody of goldfish much less her child! It was truly incredible to watch.

    I hope this does not descend to that level, but it sounds like it might. I remember speaking to the judge, the lawyers and th social worker evaluating the family about my uncle and his ex and my niece and I could not believe the things that went on. Of course I had not ever seen the inner workings of a divorce as this was the first one in our family.

    I hope that your son can be the voice of reason and that it will benefit him in this situation. I will say that no matter how much gfgbro hates his ex, and he does, he tries very very hard to be at least civil to her for their child's sake. They do not go into open warfare at niece's activities, or at least HE doesn't. She has been known to, but he works to not give in to his urge to be awful to her.
     
  17. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    In MIssouri anything that went on with the mediating session is not admissible in court. She did very poorly and mediator told her she had no case, but that's t he end of the mediator's involvement, unfortunately. No weight is given to the mediator session (yet it is mandated...go figure).

    Sus, although the Judge has the final say it almost never happens, at least not here, that he makes the real decision. Rarely does he go against a GAL recommendation. They do favor fifty/fifty here in Missouri, but ex made up false allegations of alienation when it is she doing the alienation and son, thankfully born with a good brain, has evidence and a third party witness.But he is also a man. It shouldn't matter, but often it does, even when the gender issue doesn't come up. On the books, Missouri is completely gender neutral. We'll see. The child is far happier with my son and clings to him whenever he and his mother are forced to be together. This enrages ex.

    We'll see. It's an interesting ride.
     
  18. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Moderator Staff Member

    Well like I said I have never had to actually go to mediation nor had any real issues with getting custody since my ex decided to make himself very hard to find. The only real problem I had was I couldnt get ex to stay in one place long enough for me to serve him the divorce papers. He only relented when I threatened to have 10 more kids and he would be named as the father to every one of them because we were still married...lol.
     
  19. MidwestMom

    MidwestMom Well-Known Member

    Skotti, wish it had been that simple here, but ex is very controlling and I will give her this...she will never give up little J. She wants him to be in a new family with her and her live-in. However, she is doing it in not-so-smart ways like leaving a paper trail for where she has tried to cut my son out of Little J's life. In Missouri, your attempt to build a new family with a new honeybuns does NOT get equal treatment to fostering a good relationship with ex. In fact, her honey is a legal stranger to Little J. He will probably be investigated though since he is around Little J. a lot.

    Legally, ex has to try to work with my son and to make sure she does not alienate Little J. from him. Fathers and Mothers come before live-ins.

    That's a big no-no here. You are expected to understand and foster a strong, loving relationship with the other parent or you can get into trouble. My son, who is much brighter, has not followed suit. He is actually a very involved, good father and also would never ever leave his son. Not for any reason. He actually gave up his house to move closer to his ex so that he is always near Little J. That is seen as a good thing.

    We shall see how all this shakes out with the GAL. She has more power than God over this case and can authorize any sort of psychological testing she wants, make as many home visits (even unexpected ones) as she wants and be as intrusive as she likes. It is an interesting look at the justice system, from a Family Law point of view.
     
  20. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You know, I wouldn't hesitate to talk to your son very frankly about this as a "kudos" moment. They were both kind of crummy parents when they were together. But now, he is seeing the wisdom of the parenting plan, and putting it into practice. Let her play her petty games. It's going to be more hard than he can possibly imagine, but he can come to you for advice or to let off steam and keep his son a child - not a football. He'll win in the end.
     
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