Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Maine Guardian ad Litem Institute and how it advocates for GAL bill collection

If you visit the Maine Guardian ad litem Institute web site and read their Mission Statement you will read about the noble cause that they have taken up for the child who finds him/ her self in the middle of a dispute between parents. The inference is about the compassion that they, as the Guardian ad litem trade organization, have for the child and the support that they give each other. It is in the Mission Statement that we see what Toby Hollander's Institute is all about. It is about the "compensation for those individuals serving as Guardian ad litem and providing mutual support and assistance on issues relating to the work of Guardians ad litem."

Currently, there is a case that was slated to be heard in the highest court, in which  we see the kind of support that the Guardian ad litem Institute gives to the rank and file. This case is about how the Institute advocates for the use of coercion by the courts to force a parent to pay for a Guardian ad litem services. That the Institute - in support of a particular Guardian ad litem - is  adding its voice in asking the court to have a parent thrown in jail, for non-payment of a GAL's bill. This seems to be one unappealing  interpretation of the Institute's Mission statement.  It is about Guardian ad litem compensation. In the end, it is not about what this court officer can do for the child. It is about what the court can do for this court officer - even if it means a parent is behind bars. One has to ask, how this kind of action is going to improve the welfare of a child? It makes one wonder about the bottom line; whose interest Maine's Guardians ad litem are really looking out for - theirs or the child?  And where are the courts when the public needs them?

It is planned actions like these that give the Maine Guardian ad litem a black eye. When they use the courts that they work in as "officers of the court" to be their "power bill collector" it may be legal, but it looks unfeeling. It looks like they are using their professional role connections for personal benefit. We feel that the Maine Guardian ad litem Institute has some serious public relations and identity problems. Do they want to be "part of the solution, or part of the problem?" Liens,  garnishing and jail for contempt don't cut it!

It you are having issues with a Guardian ad litem institute we encourage you to write to us. There are currently over 40 complaints about Guardians ad litem that we are aware of in the state of Maine.  The list continues to  grow. Is your Guardian ad litem part of this list? Please contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com.


  1. To us, the use of the same courts in which the GAL is working to do "power bill collecting" looks like the use of the special advantage and special relationships that go with being "an officer of the court" for personal advantage for personal economic use. Few people have this extraordinary work related advantage. Your judicial colleague does bill collecting for your personal business!

    To most people, it would look like a "conflict of interest" for both courts and GALs, even if there is some legal way of rationalizing it.

    1. Thank you for your reply it is appreciated.

  2. The very idea of 30 days in jail for "contempt for non-payment" of a GAL's bill looks like 'nouveau' debtor's prison to us. It seems extreme. We also are repulsed by other strong arm bill collection tactics ordered by courts at a GAL's request: liens on homes, garnishing wages. The court becomes a partner in a GAL's business. "Officers of the Court" have a business advantage that no other profession enjoys, and we have seen attempts to embed "strong arm" bill collecting into the very divorce decree.

    GALs wonder why they are under attack. One reason: the use of legal but cruel collection techniques. Some of it is out of Charles Dickens!

    Ultimately, it is "the power of the powerless!"

    1. Being thrown in prison is not an option. It is the use of coercion and forced debt collection by the GALs. This is the ugly side of GALs.

  3. One of the favorite sayings of GALs is: "A large GAL bill is the client's fault!". Clients give lists of contacts, and we can' say, no. Clients talk for hours with us, and we can't say, no. Client have disputes with us, and we can't say, no. Blame the inexperienced, very stressed client.

    In any professional transaction, it is the professional who guides the process, explains the unfamiliar procedures and should explain how the "money meter" works. With a financial cap on GAL fees, a GAL would have to explain "our budget" and when we are in danger of going "over budget".

    But an unregulated monopoly tries to maximize profits. Generate those "billable hours". "Make 'em pay", as one of the members of the JB GAL complaint Committee said so eloquently.

    And ,,, if they don't pay, we and the judge have our collection methods! Jail for contempt, anyone?

  4. GAL bill collecting- and the more egregious (but legal) techniques of enforcing bill collection- put GALs (officers of the court) in an unofficial partnership with the courts who must give the final orders for executing the punishment. Liens on home, garnishing wages and jail (we call it:"debtors prison"), if the client defies a court order to pay the GALs bill.

    An embellishment of this "debtor's prison" approach is the friend of the court (amicus curiae) "special". Using this technique, friends of the creditor essentially gang up with the creditor to endorse harsh court debt collecting enforcement, on the debtor-like jail. Many people might consider this an extreme form of legally allowed bullying, using all of the power tools available to humiliate a client to the greatest extent possible.

    GALs wonder why they are becoming the most disliked profession in Maine. Some blame Maine Guardian ad litem Alert. We'd suggest that scapegoats may temporarily relieve group tensions but they avoid the "need to take a fearless personal moral inventory", as recovery programs say. Cruel collection methods may not be the whole story, but they might not be a bad place to start.

  5. Part 1 of my GAL nightmare - Paul - I will share my nightmare during the most recent month (Sept. 2012) with the courts and my current GAL. This seems to be an epidemic with these guys! I live in Ohio.

    My current GAL was assigned to my case less than a year ago. He came to my home for an unannounced "home visit" as it was on his way to court where he was filing an Emergency Motion to Modify (reduce) my visits even further. This was being filed bc my child had a supervised visit in Nov. 2011 in which he/she described how she was going to carry out the murder of her father to make it look like an accident. REMEMBER I said SUPERVISED visit.

    So not only do I pay for supervised visits, I have a GAL!!! I have NEVER hurt my child but have lost in court because I don't have the $300K my ex has in order to torture me in court.

    The GAL was granted the Emergency Motion to Modify and thus started his "report preparation" for the court which would be heard at a trial in March 2012.

    My visits were reduced AGAIN! The supervisors that have "reported" their concerns about my child's murder/suicide descriptions have been going on for over a year! NO ONE has done anything from the GAL side or the supervisor provider. (The lawyer who owns the supervisor firm is good friend and neighbors with the GAL)

    So they are BURYING my child's voice in legal B.S. and I have absolutely NO unsupervised contact with my child YET the GAL gets into court and tells the judge that I have coached my child to make up these grand stories.

    And they are grand stories with lots of detail that include murder, method of the murder, who will be killed, how the bodies will be disposed of, how the crime scene will look, how the escape to mommy's house will take place, and what items will be taken on the bike ride to mommy's house.

  6. Part 2 of my GAL nightmare - Still NO ONE will validate my child's voice! I have had to go on record and tell the Judge that if my child DOES hurt or kill someone because the courts won't validate his/her voice, then my child BETTER get a pass if she is ever before the court! Still more court dates to keep the GAL's pockets full.

    His first bill was $5,838.00 and he met one person face to face (school teacher) and the rest of his darn "legwork" was by way of phone calls, emails and a couple of filings with the court!

    This guy NEVER even interviewed my child in my home! His bill for over $5,800 came from the State Of Ohio Tax Payer's pocket!

    I didn't have to pay for this and neither did my ex. We were both required to pay a $250 deposit which I was not able to come up with because I made the choice to use my extra pennies to pay for supervised visits at $35/hour!

    I'm paying $650 a month to see my child and we have a loving, enriched visit each time. My child still talks about murder/suicide and NO ONE wants to hear his voice. Why would they when they are filling their pockets at the rate of $175/hr as a GAL who does nothing?

    Sept. 6, 2012 exactly one month ago, I go to court to pay my $250 in GAL fees as I have been threatened with a warrant for my arrest if I don't pay it. Guess what? All of a sudden only ONE damn person is permitted to TAKE my GAL fee and she isn't there.

    I must come back on another day! Keep in mind there are 10 clerks standing behind that glass at the clerk's office!

    I did this on Aug. 28, 2012 and was told only she could take my payment. I went back 2 days later to pay my GAL fee of $250 and yet again, turned away because this woman was at lunch! I had to get to work so there was NO way I could get back to the courthouse before 4:30pm.

    Then we get the long holiday weekend but, I am determined to get this payment in so, I try again on Friday to make this payment.

    Guess what? Everyone was at the clerk's office working EXCEPT this woman! I still couldn't make the payment. Now I'm pissed.

    It's now Saturday as well as Labor Day weekend and I get the warrant for my arrest in the damn mail! I'm freaking out and in a panic.

    ALL my other court costs are being paid by way of payment arrangement but, I am being held hostage over $250 and I am terrified to leave my house.

    This triggers a panic attack and I am sick all weekend. This also makes me miss my scheduled visit with my child.

  7. Part 3 of my GAL nightmare - I call the courthouse on Tuesday morning to speak to this "magic" woman and she is pissy with me. I explain my 3 trips to the courthouse to pay my bill and she says she came in "just" for me on Friday to wait for an hour to see if I would come pay the $250! Yeah right!! She came in to type up my darn warrant.

    So, it's still Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend and I have her on the phone because now I have questions on what to do. She says, "Well no matter how much money you have, you STILL have to see the Judge face to face.

    And I will tell you this now. The Judge is VERY busy today with a full docket and he won't be able to see you at all." I asked what to do in this situation and she says just come tomorrow (Wednesday) as his docket is very light.

    It is still Tuesday and I have called the court, the police, the jail, and the county sheriff to tell them that I am turning myself in on Wednesday so I can pay my bill.

    It doesn't matter now, the damn police are circling my home like I am a rapist, or murderer. They are camped outside of my home for over an hour waiting for me to leave my home. More panic attacks. Completely unnecessary! I want to call the local TV news reporters as this is ridiculous.

    So Wednesday, I put on a respectful suit, get all my paperwork ready and have been given a blank check in ANY amount by a very generous friend. I then head to the courthouse at 11am.

    I get to the security check point and the police officer there tells me that the Judge has a VERY light schedule today and that I just need to sit down and wait. I sit for 40 minutes and then ask the clerk if I can see my case file because I am a pro-se litigant in my custody case.

    She puts me in the conference room with my file and shuts the door.

    Ten minutes later 11:50am, my friend who is a county sheriff officer comes in the room (I think he is coming to say hello) and I notice the velcro belt with the metal loop in his hand.

    He says "hey hon, I hate to do this to you." I look at him and say "no effing way Jim!" He looked thoroughly disgusted at the idea of having to put me in handcuffs.

    This legal juking, maneuvering or whatever you want to call it cost me WAY more than the $250! I had to pay for the night in jail, 3 rides in the police car ($33 each time) for the rides to and from the damn courthouse, missed a day of work and the list goes on.

    The GAL system is extremely corrupt if you want my front and center experienced opinion. What really ticks me off is that this is our 4th GAL for our custody case.

    My child has begged for help in the presence of the supervisor during our visits! He has begged these supervisors to get a message to the Judge and it all falls on deaf ears because at the end of the day, the GAL system is broken due to pure greed.

    A GAL can supplement his or her income by $50K a year above and beyond plus all their in house legal cases. Do the math on this and it's obscene!

    The sad part of this is that the child is NOT helped in any way.

    My child has been put with his abusive parent, and in the last 6 months I have paid over $2,200 for supervised visits and my child has reported the following: Has been given alcohol to drink and got a buzz from it, has been abused by a step sibling all summer long and described how he/she was going to murder that step sibling (the GAL helped cover this up from the court), has begged the supervisor NOT to discuss the abuse with dad & step-mom because he will just get beat up more by the step sibling.

    The supervisor asked if he has told dad about the abuse and he said "I told daddy and he told me to suck it up because it will make me tougher! Daddy won't help me and he's a f--ing asshole for not protecting me!"

  8. Part 4 of my GAL nightmare - Child has also reported that step mom berates him on the way home from visits with mom and tells him he is bad for hugging his own mother in front of the step mother. Step mother mouths obscene words at child while hugging mother goodbye. This was reported by the child!

    If someone wants to jump in here and give me some advice or help before my child hurts someone, I would graciously accept it!

    We live in Ohio and I can't begin to imagine what my child is going through. My child wants to commit suicide because he thinks he is a problem child as dad berates him for having to continually go to court. Dad is filing all the motions in the court.

    Mother only responds when child says things that include suicide and murder but, this is turned back against her by the court, the GAL and dad's attorney because mother can't afford an attorney NOR will she pay for this legal fleecing of parents in the courtroom!

    I feel slightly better after writing this yet, I sit at home worried about my child's safety every single minute of the day. I am anxious when I hear police sirens, I am waiting for that dreaded knock at my door, I am waiting for a child to get shot at school because of bullying, I constantly keep an eye on my car because dad and step mom have taken their hateful campaign to social media groups!

    Yes, they post some very hateful, hurtful things on FB and my child hears about it. I am not bothered by most of the FB discussions about me but, when people talk about having you killed you worry.

    When some of the posts make their way to your child by the way of step siblings who poke fun at mom it's a recipe for disaster!

    At what point to we stop putting so much on the child's shoulders out of greed? These GALs are just a way for the courts to generate money, as well as a way to keep things lingering in the court system.

    My current GAL was poached by my ex-husband's attorney in an attempt to further bury me in court.

    If I make it on TV I will post it here. If I go to jail again, I guess you won't hear from me until I get out. I will be filing a motion for Judicial Misconduct after I go to court this month. The current Judge is rogue!

    I welcome anyone in the legal field to assist me in trying to untangle myself from the court system.

    I can't pay now, but once I have my child home, I will give up my entire paycheck in order to pay back any legal fees for legal work that pushes this out into the light!

    I will battle for my child no matter how long it takes. I promised not to give up on him and I told him I would always be here. This gives him a little comfort in the face of all the stressors he is facing.

    There is a long history of attorney and Judicial misconduct in my case which I am just starting to understand from studying and from taking legal classes.