A comment from a parent frustrated with the process of dealing with Guardian ad Litems. The second to last paragraph speaks volumes to the issues of what happens if the GAL makes a poor recommendation (this has been highlighted). Please send your stories and what state you are from to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is pretty simple either the GAL advocates for the Best Interest of a Child or they do not.
Parental Alienation. Definitely happens often. The parent that practices this should never be rewarded with primary custody of the child when they/and their lawyer have practiced this by design. In my case, I did not see my son for five months over the holidays. Stopping my unsupervised visits for no plausible reason, however since they court had not made any ruling about visitations and let the GAL schedule it, nothing stopped her from stopping visits entirely when first GAL withdrew from my case. Did not see my son for five months, had to hire second GAL to do this, there is no authority from the court. When the GAL withdrew, I voiced my concern to the judge that granted her withdrawal that there was no current plan for visits in place, I was then put on a Trailing Docket for my divorce and told that it would be discussed then, I did not know at that time that a Trailing Docket continues to trail and trail, in my case 18 months. At no time did I ever appear before a Judge, therefore if I waited for the Judge, I still would not be seeing my child.
Substance Abuse. Drugs/alcohol/prescription drug abuse. If you are drug or alcohol dependent, should you be able to have primary custody without even admitting you have a problem or getting treatment? If the other parent is clean and sober and not breaking the law in anyway, don't you think that the best interests currently would be with the sober parent.
Mental Health: If you have not worked because of Stress/PTSD or what have you for let us say eight years and have a long history of Suicide Ideation, Self Mutliation (Cutting) in front of your adult children that you have been blue papered for mental health issues and the Judge denies you request for Discovery of Non-Financial Information (Mental Health/Prescription Drug Abuse) because it give the other person an unfair advantage at trial, then perhaps it should be investigated. I was assured that the GAL would investigate this over and over. If you are prescribed an opiate like Oxycontin and driving your child around, you are drug dependent because you cannot quit Opiates overnight and you are breaking the law and putting your child at unnecessary safety risks.
Child Abuse/Neglect. Over and over your child has accidents. Did they happen because you abused that child or did they happen because you were sleeping under the influence of prescription drugs and wasn't supervising your child as you should be? Child is burned with what appears to be a cigarette, child has multiple incidents of huge bruises that you have no idea about until you bath him or you are made aware of them by someone else like I was, you decide there seems to be a trend here and file PFA only to be told that pictures can be altered, Nothing written about it in the GAL Report. File incident with DHHS. No calls, no follow up, you later find out the complaint was unsubstantiated.
There is plenty of blame to go around, however it comes down to the basics question.
What is in the best interests of this child?
In my case, it was bureaucracy, big brother (email monitoring), breech of contract (failure to interview appropriate people in a timely manner or investigate the issues that were presented) a court system that doesn't ensure that Status Conferences are being done in the case or a Trailing Docket that never hears your case in a timely manner because they are too busy with too many cases.
So if my ex-wife is driving under the influence of her prescription drugs and nods off or judgment is clouded by the effects of those drugs and god forbid my child is seriously injured or killed. Who is responsible. The Mother, the Guardian Ad Litem that recommended she get primary custody, the lawyers? I don't know the answer and I don't want to know. I can tell you right now, Quasi Immunity would definitely be questioned and it has been questioned by me for the last two years.
The loser is the child in my case. The system is broken because there is no accountability of the Guardian Ad Litem at this time.
Maine and other states receive 'F' on Guardian ad Litems