Mother Facing Jail Time over GAL fees – Judge refers to GAL as his “go-to”

(Augusta, Georgia, June 2015) Superior Court Judge Michael Annis ordered a mother, Shannon Lingefelt, to pay $1,627 in past due fees to Guardian ad Litem Angel Kendrick or go to jail. Judge Annis told Lingefelt she could deliver a check or be held in jail until the fees were paid.

(Shannon Lingefelt. Source: http://m.chronicle.augusta.com)

Lingefelt filed an appeal in the Columbia County court on June 4th; which halts the order for jail time until the appeals court rules. 

Judge Annis commented on the case, “The issue was not whether she owes the money. Nobody goes to jail for owing money. The issue is whether she willfully disobeyed a court order, while having the ability to comply with it.

Judge Annis has a particular fondness for GAL Angel Kendrick and refers to her as his “go-to person”. Judge Annis appointed Kendrick to 26 of 48 cases – that is 54% of all his cases. 

Angel Kendrick is one of three GALs three guardians (including also Renee Bell and Janet Weinberger) were appointed to 63 percent of the 255 civil cases requiring custody experts from Jan. 1, 2013, to Oct. 31 of 2015. For Kendrick, working as a GAL is essentially a full time job, she been appointed to 70 cases in Richmond and Columbia counties, half remaining open today.

According to the August Chronicle, “A review of 5,460 domestic-relations cases in Richmond and Columbia counties found guardians ad litem, some of whom are appointed twice as often as their peers, faced few restrictions and virtually no oversight in their billing, leaving many parents in debt, struggling to pay for costly divorce, child custody and DNA decisions.

In Augusta’s Judicial Circuit, bills are not collected or audited; there are no rules requiring Superior Court judges to assign cases on a rotation; and guardians have the power to hold clients in contempt to recover unpaid fees, an action that many parents say they’re threatened with if bills are not paid in five to 10 days, as requested.

Read More:

Judge drops contempt order against mother

Guardian ad litem program faces scrutiny

 

 

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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3 Responses to Mother Facing Jail Time over GAL fees – Judge refers to GAL as his “go-to”

  1. Shannon says:

    Would like to note: in order to refute a charge, the litigant must address the issue with the Judge. I could have just paid the $1000+ and avoid the Contempt hearing filed by GAL on May 14, 2015, but I felt it was necessary to inform the Judge that the GAL’s “legally blind employee, had not in fact billed me 3 of the invoices until May 22, 2015. (And those 3 invoices were emailed to the wrong email address), After repeated emails requesting those 3 invoices be resent to prove they were sent in Oct & Nov 2014 and Jan 2015, the 3 invoices were scanned in, and magnified at such a high percentage, they couldn’t be printed. When asked why these 3 questionable invoices were scanned in, and not resent, and maginfied, GAL’s employee states she didnt know why she had to do my invoices that way. Yes, it’s in the transcripts. Back to refuting the chages: I asked if it ethical to charge for family visits (1 hour) and business meetings (2 hours) during “supervised” visits, and one visit where the GAL left her “legally blind employee” to supervise my daughter during one of the “Supervised” visits. I was given credit for those visits during the hearing. So how did it turn out that I was in Contempt? Why was a bench warrant for my arrest signed that day, and then told to pay or make arrangements for my son while I was jailed? Peaceful protest was held the day I was supposed to report to jail at 1:00 pm and the Contempt charge was dropped and filed at 4:53 pm. The GAL’s payment was stamped in at the Post Office at exactly 5:00 June 5th. It has been 100+ days since I’ve spoken to or seen my daughter, and she her brother.

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    • EJ Perth says:

      Thank you Shannon for sharing with us. I am so sorry for what your family is going through.

      Your experiences illustrate some of the failures in the family court, and Guardian ad Litem program – many parents share similar concerns with the lack of transparency, the lack of responsiveness when a concern is raised by a litigant and being forcibly separated from children without just cause. Many parents report that when they do raise complaints, they become the target of retaliation – being fined, thrown in jail or loss of custody are all common forms of retaliation.

      The public is largely unaware of the injustices taking place in family court. Our stories are so important to keep the focus on what is best for our children, and by raising awareness, to fight for reform.

      Warm Regards, EJ

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      • Concerned says:

        Guardian Ad Litems – No formal education, more power than most DFAC’s workers and if they are from Thomson Ga.. very corrupt! Brother and sister Ad Litem tag teams!! Family Judge in Thomson GA works off the popularity contest in regards to how he makes decisions. Very corrupt!

        Like

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