Monday, November 19, 2012

Maine's Malfunctioning Guardian ad litem (GAL) program

In 2006 OPEGA (Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability) did a report on the Guardian ad litem (GAL) system for the state. This came over 30 years after GALs were created as mandated by the Federal Government. From that investigation that was completed six years ago came 11 recommendations to help fix the problems that had been festering for so long. As was pointed out in the last post – none – of these recommendations have been acted upon.

One out of the 11 issues that OPEGA found with the Guardian ad litem program is addressed:

1. OPEGA found back in 2006 that GAL services were not being managed as a program with a focus on the quality and effectiveness of service delivery.

When OPEGA made the recommendations back in 2006 the Judicial Branch agreed to convene a task force to evaluate what OPEGA advised. October 2007 The Judicial Branch was to put forth its recommendations and how it was going to fix the problem. Five years later nothing has happened with the Guardian ad litem program and the issues that confront this very broken system. In 2008 Toby Hollander President of the Maine Guardian ad Litem Institute (the trade organization for Guardians ad litem – also known as MEGALI ) basically reiterates what OPEGA had indicated was wrong in his “Proposal to Create a Guardian ad Litem Commission and Office of the Child's Advocate”.

In this proposal that Mr Hollander echoed the OPEGA report in that the weakness of oversight of Guardians ad litem was a major concern. Mr Hollander is quoted as stating “There is no ongoing supervision of Guardians. There is no effort to evaluate the quality or efficiency of their work.” One would think that in 2012 four years after his proposal that there would be more support from the Guardians ad litem that MEGALI fights for in the recent committee investigations in Guardian ad litem oversight and management. It should come as no surprise though that MEGALI and the Judicial Branch have walked lockstep perusing no change despite recognition that change is needed.

Since May 2012 we are aware of over 40 people, 40 families who have been hurt by these organizations. How many others during the prior six years or the 30 plus years before that have been harmed because the Judicial Branch and more recently MEGALI have chosen to turn away and do nothing to fix a problem – a problem that continues to fester?

If you have had issues with a Guardian ad litem or know someone who has. Please contact us for support at or like us on Facebook


  1. "The Mission of the Maine Guardian Ad Litem Institute is to improve the welfare of Maine's children through strengthening the institution of the Guardian Ad Litem by advocating for improved standards of practice, education, and 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."

    Toby Hollander has the "and compensation for those individuals serving as Guardian Ad Litem" nailed.

  2. It is our sense that the JB is unable to provide any management of its GALs. The GALs it creates just float out in space with no oversight, no supervision, no quality assurance, no consumer protection. These are people who work for a branch of state government, even though they are paid for by individuals involved in a divorce.

    After 16 or 20 hours of "training", they try to figure out what it is they are supposed to be doing. The consumer is a guinea pig for new GALs, who have no internship- no practical experience. These are the workers who threaten consumers with "sign or else" contracts for service, who use the courts they work in for their bill collection, who want full access to personal psychological records, etc. They treat custody disputes as if they were criminal actions.

    The program should be repaired, managed, made functional, or ... ENDED!


  3. It is terrible that the courts are allowing something like this to happen..... I would agree the courts should stop these people until it is fixed. It is hard to understand why the courts would allow people to get hurt. These people - the courts and MEGALI are cruel.

    1. They are allowing this to happen because the courts are "fair" and compassionate. GAL's are fair and compassionate. So why change for just one or two people? Well that is what they want us to believe.

  4. I think it is funny that you are looking to Toby Hollander to solve these problems. HE is a GAL. Do you really expect him to provide the oversight? Do you think he doesn't have an agenda?

    Do you think he has provided fair and right services as a GAL?

    Do you think he would have complaints against him if he didn't have immunity?

  5. Thank you for your comment about Toby Hollander. Not really sure where the post indicates we are looking towards Toby Hollander to solve the issues regarding Guardians ad litem. If you re-read the post I think that you will see that if anything Toby Hollander and MEGALI is being called out for the lack of reform - this despite acknowledging a need for it.

    As I have not used Mr Hollander in his capacity as a Guardian ad litem I can not personally say one way or another whether he has provided "fair and right services" as a Guardian ad litem. I/ we have been in touch with a number of people who have used his services. It is questionable whether he does any good as a Guardian ad litem. Especially considering that he is not held accountable for his actions.

    As for the last question you ask. If immunity were the only variable. Based on Mr Hollanders actions as a Guardian ad litem I am sure he would have complaints.

    It would appear though that you are missing the point. There is a need for reform. This has been recognized by the state, Judicial Branch, MEGALI, national organizations, politicians in Augusta and parents. In almost 40 years there has not been much in the way of actually doing something about reform - which is unfortunate - as it ends up hurting families and children. The only case for reform is that legislation has passed which has strengthened what Guardians ad litem are able to get away with. Yet there is no accountability, management or oversight. There is no data - other than cardboard boxes - that shows if there is a problem and where it might be.

    Mr Hollander does have an adgenda - and it is in support and advancement of Guardians ad litem.

    To see the incestuous relationships of the divorce industry. Again thank you for your comment.