New Guardian ad litem?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lila256, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Lila256

    Lila256 Member

    About a week ago, my stepson was made a ward of the state when his biological parents signed over their rights after a series of uncontrolled, violent events that he has a racked up a number of criminal charges for. During the first few years of our relationship, my partner was involved in a pretty messy custody case trying to get his son's visitation with his mom as limited as possible for his son's protection. During this trial, the court assigned a guardian ad litem to my stepson to represent his interests in the custody case.

    Now, they are assigning a new Guardian ad litem to him. Is this a standard thing done with all kids who end up being wards of the state? Or is this probably because of the multiple criminal charges he has gotten lately? I'm confused, because he already has a lawyer from a local organization that provides legal help to children that has been representing him for a number of months now. I'm hoping she is just additional representation to push for the right situation for him. CPS is trying to charge my partner with neglect because he refuses to take him back in because of safety issues, and I realize it's just a scare tactic that probably won't come to anything, but I just don't want to help respond to this woman without understanding a little bit more of what I might be stepping in considering everything going on. It's been difficult to get information from people in all this.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Without knowing all of the particulars, I would guess that both attorneys are there to protect the child's interest. The defense attorney is to deal with the criminal charges and the guardian ad litem is to deal with the CPS stuff and family court stuff. Each one is to make sure the child's voice is heard and represented in the court. Each lawyer has different areas of specialty and does something different.

    I am sorry that your husband is charged with neglect. I think CPS does this so that they don't have to deal with the very complex cases. We got threatened with this over my son. I had refused to allow him to stay in the house when he was 14. He kept attacking me for "abusing" him. I did such awful and abusive things as asking him if he wanted dinner (oh the HORROR!! I asked if he wanted food!!) and insisting that he do homework (What an awful, abusive mother!!). I had to go tell a judge why he could not come home. It was the hardest thing I had to do.

    I hope things go well for you and CPS gets off of their high horse. Be sure you have all of the documentation of the times Difficult Child has tried to attack you or hurt you or a pet. Get letters from his doctors and therapists that say he is dangerous to you. With all of that documentation, you should come out okay. Especially have documentation of the times you called CPS or doctors or whomever for help and they told you they couldn't/didn't have a bed/whatever. If you need help organizing it, take a look at the Parent Report. The format used for that might be helpful. Otherwise, a timeline might help. Draw out a timeline on a roll of blank paper and make the timeline of each time he had an event, good or bad. Have the documentation in that order in a binder. It is just an idea.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  3. Lila256

    Lila256 Member

    It sounds like you are absolutely right, Susie. His father's lawyer that was assigned to help him finally gotten in touch with us. Thankfully we have been collecting what paperwork we can get access to for quite a while now. After reading over the recent paperwork, I also found out that his mom's husband had physically abused him (at least once) after they took custody in February. Ugh. We had warned CPS before they took custody that we had serious concerns, considering we had been fighting for custody to protect him for years, but this is the first I'm hearing about it and it apparently happened in June before he was placed back in their custody. Just when I think the system can't let anyone else in this situation down, they prove me wrong yet again. I am so not looking forward to another battle in court.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    These never ending battles are why they should give us armor and swords. I know there were more than a few times I wanted to lop the heads off of idiots who were just causing problems to be mean and/or stupid. I have very low tolerance for either.

    There is a link in my signature that will take you to a thread about a Parent Report. It is a report you write about your kid. I found it to be an incredibly powerful tool as I worked to get the things I needed for my child. Even if you cannot write all of it because you don't have all of the information, it would give you some ideas for how to organize the information. Work on it in chunks, not all at once if you can. It will help you not forget important things. I know that when the judge saw the Parent Report and all that we had tried and been through, and when he read the summary of the behaviors we had been dealing with and all that we had done to help that hadn't worked, he was astounded. It let him know that this really was the last resort. We had tried everything we could, and we couldn't safely keep him at home any longer.

    I think you have to work to communicate this also. It would be best to use an outline format or bullet points rather than paragraphs when you present info to the judge. That way the judge can read the info quickly or you can read it to him in just a few moments. I know how hard that is, trust me.

    As your husband has charges against him, does he have his own attorney? Or are you going in with just the attorney for your son? If your husband does not have his own attorney, I STRONGLY suggest you get an attorney for him. It really is important.

    Make sure the judge knows that you are TERRIFIED of your stepson. Not just a little scared, truly terrified that he is going to kill you. Make sure that they hear it from you as well as your husband. It is different if they only hear it from one parent and not both. They sometimes can think the parent is making it up and the other parent is "going along" but doesn't really feel the same way if the other parent doesn't voice his or her feelings. I have read some things written by people involved in family court cases and I was astounded to hear they thought this way. Lawyers/judges are strange in the way they think.

    Is your son's lawyer trying to get him placed somewhere or trying to get him placed back in your home? Can he talk to you? You might want to be cautious in your dealings with him if you don't know and trust that he is going to try to get your son placed somewhere. Often CPS will try to pass the buck back to the parents by threatening charges so that they don't have to deal with disturbed kids even if the kids are truly dangerous and in need of services. They can play some strange tricks on parents. Make sure you protect yourself and your husband.

    I am so very sorry this is so complicated and difficult. When do you go to court over all of this?
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  5. Lila256

    Lila256 Member

    We really do need armor and swords! The level of incompetence just continues to amaze me.

    Thank you so much for the link to the Parent Report. I think I will start working on that tomorrow to try to pull everything together. There has been so much over the last five years that it's hard to pull it all together. I'm pretty sure I have reams of paperwork about his care and well-being in my filing cabinet, but in my head they are all just chaos at this point, despite constantly trying to explain the situation to people. Your information will be helpful in navigating this. His father is so beyond overwhelmed that he is starting to shut down, so I'm trying to at least help with planning and structure to get through this leg of things.

    I feel like I have been telling everyone in this county how dangerous this child is, at least since he tried to poison his father in February. Just all of his providers before then. His father and I are both disabled, though I am severely physically disabled and often have caregivers with me that he has also threatened and stolen from. It's just astounding how clueless everyone involved in this has been, despite repeating these things over and over. I have even told the police and APS that I'm a vulnerable adult and I fear for my life, and the response has consistently been a complete lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation. CPS has literally said multiple times, "We are not APS. We are CPS."

    His father does now have an attorney. One was assigned by the court for this case. We've been emailing with her the last couple days. She hasn't answered any of our questions or really given us any guidance at all at this point, only wanting to know if his father's intention was to permanently have him in foster care. I'm hoping she's just really bad at communicating via email.

    We are actually not sure what direction they are trying to go in terms of what happens with my stepson. His lawyer hasn't really communicated with us about any specifics at all, only asking the occasional question when we see him in court. The Guardian ad litem just emailed us the other day to introduce herself, but didn't ask any questions. We responded fairly generically, letting her know we were available to ask questions of and I introduced myself, but I didn't give her any information because I don't really know what part everyone is playing in all of this yet. I'm being guarded.

    My stepson has been calling his dad's phone repetitively for a few days now because he is upset that his dad won't give him a neighbor kid's phone again because we are concerned that he will start harassing this kid because he is kind of obsessed with him and thinks that they are best friends when this kid had a really put up a barrier with him. Last night he started leaving threatening voicemails because his dad won't call him back right now because he is tired of the repetitive phone calls. "Dad, you better answer next time I call or I'll *growl*. You just better answer." (We aren't.)

    We have a conference call with his lawyer, his biological mom and her lawyer, the Guardian ad litem and CPS on November 17, though we are not entirely clear on exactly what will be discussed. Then the dependency hearing is on December 5. We are actually not 100% clear that he is being charged with anything at this point. The court documentation doesn't specifically say so, and nobody else except his biological mom has mentioned anything. She doesn't exactly have a good history with the truth. We are hoping it is just to figure everything out? (But preparing for the worst regardless.)