Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Maine's courts ignore Rules and Standards for Guardians ad litem

The Rules and Standards for Guardians ad litem are posted on the Maine's Judiciary web site. The rules and guidelines are there for the public to view. To help them understand the process that the courts and Guardians ad litem must go through and adhere to while caring out their job and responsibilities.

Unfortunately when it comes to the Rules and Guidelines it is not known whether Maine's courts and Guardians ad litems really must follow them. In the past two years there have been 28 complaints that resulted in 2 reprimands. One written the other verbal which eventually resulted in dismissal of those Guardians ad litem. Guardians ad litem and the trade organization Maine Guardian ad litem institution point to this static as proof that the current system is working the way it is supposed. What we are not told is the reason for these dismissals.

The two reprimands had nothing to do with:

  •  A child being burned by cigarettes – Section 6 (6.1) Mandated reporting: Where a “Guardian knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected” is supposed to report to DHHS and it is not.
  •  A Guardian ad litem must meet and establish a relationship with the child(ren) in any case. Section 2 (2.2) “Meet and Interview Child. Establishing and maintaining a relationship with a child is a foundation of the Guardian's duties.” - 30 minutes with a child does not constitute a relationship with a child(ren). Yet many Guardians ad litem only meet with child(ren) for not much more than this.
  • Under the rules section 3 (3.2), (12) “Working effectively with other professionals involved in the assessment or treatment of the child and/or parties to a child's case” - Guardians ad litem often use psychological testing as a weapon to control a party. This is often used time and time again against the party in question. If the party in question refuses the Guardian ad litem will use the court to force the issue. The use of professionals or programs by Guardians ad litem are without boundaries, goals or endings. They pose a huge financial burden on the party that it is being used against. This is not working effectively.
  • Guardians ad litem often do not explain the court process to child(ren) as they are mandated to do under section 3, (3.3).
We have on file over 25 complaints against Guardians ad litem that have merit. These are not complaints where the person complaining is upset with the outcome. These are complaints against the process that was used. These are complaints that we have collected since June 2012. These complaints under the current broken system would all be rejected and the Guardian ad litem would be exonerated. Maine is at the bottom for a reason. It is not because, as some would have us believe, that they system is working as it should. Maine is at the bottom because the Guardians ad litem operate in a system where they can do what they want with no repercussions.

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  1. There is widespread belief in the GAL culture that complaints against them are about dissatisfaction with custody recommendations. There is a total lack of data to back up this claim, and it is a claim that minimizes the seriousness of actual claims based on violations of GAL Rules and Regs.

    1. In some cases this is true. Some. There is no data to back up the claims that the problem does not exist. There is a problem a serious problem that has been pushed under the rug for years. The people who have tried to correct a very frustrating system on their own have been met with indignation.

  2. One of the shocking things about the JB is the total lack of data/statistics that would give them a handle on some of the GAL problem. There is no data at the district court level about GAL problems or complaints about GALs. None! No business in America could operate in the 21st century without knowing if it had complaints. "Not that bad" is the answer given by some, but one has to ask: "Compared to what?"

    1. You are correct. There is less than no data available. Maine's court system has no idea what is going on.