Monday, November 5, 2012

Guardians ad litem have a minimal of training to make life altering decisions

Is 16 hours of CORE training enough to make altering changes?

There are professions that have a profound impact on our lives. These people who can make life or death decisions or determine the outcome of a legal battle have in some cases years of training.

A doctor for instance goes through medical school which is an additional 4 years of education above college. Then depending on the branch of medicine another 2 to 5 years of residency before anyone can practice their profession. A lawyer is similar with 3 – 4 years of education after college. To become a Judge is an additional 7 years beyond law school.

To become an electrician, Plumber or a Lobsterman requires years of apprenticeship and thousands of hours of on the job training. These are just a few jobs where the path to that profession requires in some cases years of experience and training. Each level of training builds on the previous training.

A Guardian ad litem is a person that when introduced into a divorce/ custody battle can and does have a profound impact on a persons life. To become a Guardian ad litem one has to have a background as lawyer or social worker – yet unlike other professions the training a Guardian ad litem receives does not build on the previous education they may have. In fact Guardians ad litem do not use their previous background when working as a Guardian ad litem – or at least that is how it is supposed to work in theory. Guardians ad litem on average across the country have training from a low of 16 hours (Maine) to a high of 50 hours. This falls short of the thousands of hours that a Doctor, Plumber, Electrician or Lawyer have to go through. These professions can and do have a profound impact on a persons life and they are held accountable. Would you want a doctor to operate on you if you knew he had only 16 hours of training? Or how about a plumber without any apprenticeship?  The answer is no. Guardians ad litem though have a minimal of CORE training before they get to make life altering decisions on you and your family. If you push back you run the risk of the Guardian ad litem forcing you to take anger management or parental counseling for example. 16 hours, 50 hours or even 100 hours does not give you the educational background to make these kinds of life impacting decisions. Guardians ad litem are only para professionals with little or no background but lots of influence over your life.

If you have had issues with Guardians ad litem please contact us at


  1. The lack of training that Guardians ad litem have show. In reading some of the posts that have gone up here in the past several months it is apparent that GALs in Maine are grossly under trained with a lack of understanding and or caring of thise they are supposed to be helping.

  2. Not only do they have minimal training, said to be recently increased from 16 to 20 hours, but the training seems to have no relationship to their job description. Oh, by the way, there is NO job description.

    And as for a practical internship to learn actual job skills, there is none. YOU are the "internship" as they use you to learn by trial and error. Oops, sorry, we made an error. But nobody knows, because there is NO oversight.

    And ... don't even think about seeking justice, they have legal IMMUNITY.

    It's a really neat system ... for GALs!

  3. In reading the amazing 2006 OPEGA Report about GALs in Maine there are many thoughtful observations. There is huge food for thought, and virtually none of the well-researched out, well thought out recommendations have been implemented.

    Among the many OPEGA "gems" two especially startling points jump out":

    1.) The 2006 OPEGA Audit of GALs was the FIRST evaluation of Maine's GALs in over 30 years! How does the JB know that there is "no problem" if they don't do assessments at regular intervals?

    2.) There is NO visible management system for GAL oversight, supervision in the JB- or elsewhere. NONE! GALs are created by the JB, and, once "rostered", go out to do their own thing unfettered by any managerial oversight.

    Any wonder there are problems? Is the JB capable of managing this program? 30 + years without program evaluation or management, suggests a problem. Do they know how?

  4. For the safety and protection of the public, this program ought to be abolished. The JB's two statements : "No problem with GALs" and "No money for reform", say it all. Massive denial. Should children have to have a "half baked" program inflicted on them? Should the government of Maine be putting forth such a program for the public? No and No!

    End this program until it can do a proper problem analysis and afford the necessary "repairs".

    1. Thank you for the posting. The problem in Maine continues to be ignored by those who created the system. In almost 40 years the only update has been to give GALs greater powers. The people forced to use and then pay for a program that has no record of actually helping those it was intended to help is obscene. Yet the system continues to grind up and spit out hurt and broken families - while the divorce industry gets fat. Time is on the side of change and change will come. The question that should be asked of MEGALI and the Judicial Branch is whether they want to be at the table to make meaningful change. Or will that change be dictated to them. So far it appears that they are unwilling to agree to change. Time will tell.