A Call to Action Update: April 2015 – Families Impacted by Guardian ad Litem Failures, Board Revising Its Complaint Procedure

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The need for reform in family court and in the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program is urgent. Fit, loving parents are losing custody of their children due to systemic failures and abuses of power, and children are being placed in the custody of dangerous or unfit parent. The impact is severe, devastating families and often leaving lifelong scars on children.

The stories of these families are heartbreaking…. here are some stories we have heard:

Since my abusive ex won custody, I have not been allowed to see my child.

I was forced to send my child to visit the abuser, they screamed and cried and did not want to leave.

I was not even allowed to give my child an Easter basket.

I was punished for reporting concerns of abuse, and lost custody (other parents are placed into supervised visitation while the abusive parent retains primary custody).”

The Guardian ad Litem ignored my ex’s history (criminal record, serious mental health diagnosis, drug or alcohol use, past violence or abuse, etc) when recommending sole custody and then labeled me as mentally ill or unfit.

I filed a complaint against the Guardian with the Program Manager and she did not even get back to me.

We have also commonly heard this complaint as well, “I filed a complaint against the Guardian with the Program Manager and nothing happened. I do not even know what happened to my complaint, or if it was investigated.

A Call to Action is working hard to help reform the Guardian ad Litem program to better serve the needs of families and children, and advocating for those who need protection from domestic violence or abuse.

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, A Call to Action participated in the Minnesota Legislative hearings. A member of our group also spoke.

On Friday, April 17, 2014, A Call to Action presented during the public comments at the State Guardian ad Litem Board Meeting, held in Ramsey.

A Call to Action has attended several of the Board Meetings to offer testimony of parents hurt by program failures and to urge needed change. The Guardian ad Litem Board has responded, and is currently revising its complaint procedure for those seeking to file a complaint against a Guardian. 

This is an important first step but there is more work to do. The more people involved, the more impact we can make. We invite you to join and be part of the change to reform the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem program.

Please visit the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem website to read the proposed changes and learn how you can submit feedbackhttp://mn.gov/guardian-ad-litem/Notices/

Then contact A Call to Action for information on how to join us in submitting feedback and working towards meaningful reform: victimsofmanning @ hotmail.com

 Visit our page for information and updates: https://acalltoactionblog.wordpress.com/

 Also visit Minnesota Guardian Watch for proposed reform and news: http://www.mnguardianwatch.org/

 

 

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About EJ

Parenting Abused Kids (PAK) reflects the personal thoughts and opinions of "EJ" sharing her experiences of surviving domestic abuse and injustice in family court. PAK also includes news and informational articles about abuse and family court issues. The purpose of PAK is to raise awareness of the challenges domestic abuse survivors to rebuild their lives after experiencing domestic abuse, compounded with the struggles of ongoing family court litigation. PAK will also discuss and raise awareness about issues related to parenting children who have been abused, and often present with emotional and behavioral problems. Parenting Abused Kids is not affiliated with any professional group, political group, organization or religious affiliation. My sincere love and support goes out to abuse survivors and their children. I am so sorry for what you have endured, and pray your lives will be filled with the happiness you so deserve. Thank-you for visiting!
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5 Responses to A Call to Action Update: April 2015 – Families Impacted by Guardian ad Litem Failures, Board Revising Its Complaint Procedure

  1. EJ Perth says:

    Reblogged this on Parenting Abused Children: Hope, Healing & Insight and commented:

    A Call to Action has attended several of the Board Meetings to offer testimony of parents hurt by program failures and to urge needed change. The Guardian ad Litem Board has responded, and is currently revising its complaint procedure for those seeking to file a complaint against a Guardian.

    Please visit the Minnesota Guardian ad Litem website to read the proposed changes and learn how you can submit feedback: http://mn.gov/guardian-ad-litem/Notices/

    Then contact A Call to Action for information on how to join us in submitting feedback and working towards meaningful reform: victimsofmanning @ hotmail.com

    Read about the history of Call to Action and add your thoughts: http://parentingabusedkids.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/maryland-guardiaadlitem/

    Visit our page for information and updates: https://acalltoactionblog.wordpress.com/

    Also visit Minnesota Guardian Watch for proposed reform and news: http://www.mnguardianwatch.org/

    Like

  2. The guardian ad litem involved in my case not only failed to do a forensic interview after receiving evidence that such an interview was warranted, but he created a story about me, the target parent, in front of the judge. My attorney was there and so asked me about it (he claimed I was yelling at my daughter — I was not even talking to anyone and I was not even in the same room and my daughter was not even supposed to have been taken out of school and brought there) and I told her none of that happened and I asked her to question him with me standing there. She did and he then tried to deny what he said. My attorney said he was probably with worst GAL possible, yet she did not turn him in or do anything to have him do his job or get removed. I honestly don’t know what would have happened — I felt uncomfortable getting a GAL simply because my X requested it, so I knew a GAL would be his tool just like everyone else, including my daughter.

    Like

    • EJ Perth says:

      RE: “I felt uncomfortable getting a GAL simply because my X requested it..
      This is commonly referred to as a “permissive appointment” meaning the Court has broad discretion on when to assign a Guardian ad Litem.

      In comparison, “mandatory appointments” involve cases of child abuse, neglect, domestic violence or a risk of harm to a child. In my state (not sure about others) statutes say that “No guardian ad litem need be appointed if the alleged domestic child abuse or neglect is before the court on a juvenile dependency and neglect petition.”

      Many family court reformers believe the GAL program should do away with permissive appointments.

      There was a comment by Mary on the Family In Law blog that offered another idea for reform: “The GAL program was never intended for family court. I believe the program should be completely discontinued and qualified experts should be used to evaluate custody, parenting time, and a volunteer lawyer and or child psychologist should represent the children when the judge requires it.http://family-in-law.com/city-pages-article-targets-guardian-ad-litem-program/

      Like

    • EJ Perth says:

      Guardian ad Litems do have immunity, but there are state statutes when they are exempt from that. In my state, a GAL is not given immunity if they are acting outside of the scope of their responsibilities. There are also penalties for mandated reporters who fail to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

      The way the system is set up, it is very difficult to file a complaint against a GAL. Most parents report that complaints are not heard or investigated. Or that filing a complaint resulted in retaliation.

      So it’s an important step that the State GAL Board is working to revise its complaint procedure… stories like yours demonstrate the need for change. Thank you for sharing with us. I am so sorry for all you have been through.

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on Life's Doors Mediation and commented:
    You can change the world…together…for a purpose…and with a passion.

    Like

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