Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Late night bar hopping with a four year old

Is 'in the best interest' of the child according to one of Maine's Guardian ad litem's

As a parent if your four year old child came to you and told you she was scared of being in a situation your ex put her in what would you do? If your child was taken to an adult environment, a bar, late at night where there was loud music, alcohol and intoxicated adults involved. What would you do?  Would it make a difference if you were involved in a divorce and custody battle?

Most parents would try to take some kind of protective action for their child. If a Guardian ad litem was involved – you would complain to them; after all, that is what they are put in place for. Clearly a child (no matter what the age) being put into an inappropriate adult situation is not in the child’s best interest. Nor does the child feel emotionally safe. Common sense would dictate that this child (or any child) should be protected and removed from this situation or environment.

There is an actual case in Maine that has gone through the courts where common sense appears to have been thrown out the window. The Guardian ad litem in question is said to be one of the most senior Guardians ad litem in the state and is also a member of the Guardian ad litem Institute (the trade organization that promotes the interests of Guardians ad litem in the state of Maine). This Guardian ad litem has had criticism about her handling of other cases, in which there have been complaints against her. Her Judgment clearly seems questionable and; for that matter, the Judge who is reported to have agreed with this Guardian ad litem also seems off base.

The child in question told her father that she felt scared being in the bars to which she was taken by her mother. She witnessed fights and yelling, and her mom's boyfriend being pushed around. “Bad words” were often being said between people. When the father brought this to the Guardian ad litem's attention (the person who is supposed to be looking out for the best interest of this child) – the Guardian ad litem stated that the father simply did not trust that his four year old daughter was in good hands. The father, concerned for his daughters safety, continued to make his point and express his concern. His concern was not taken seriously by the Guardian ad litem. Instead of investigating whether or not the situation of a child’s late night visit to bars was good for the child, this Guardian ad litem continued to blame the father for trying to cause trouble.

How are we to believe, as this Guardian ad litem and the Judge would seem to be doing, that this little girl's 'best interest' was served by late night visits to bars that she found frightening? What about her emotional  safety? Is this kind of place a good moral environment for children? To say the least of what this child is learning from the experience? We would say that common sense was not used by the child’s mother nor by the Guardian ad litem for that matter. Sadly, this type of poor judgment is frequently seen with quite a number of Guardians ad litem in the State of Maine. Examples like this are the reason why there is now - and has been - a very real need for Guardian ad litem reform in Maine. Too much time has passed and too many families hurt by Guardians ad litem and the courts that 'manage' the Guardians ad litem. This should not go on any longer. Please contact us if you or your child have been hurt by the poor judgment and lack of common sense of a Guardian ad litem.


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