Custody Battle Costs Are Focus of Task Force

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   |3 Comments

She added, "The parent doesn't see their own role in the problem. They go off about their crazy ex-wife or husband. The guardian ad litem is trying to help the family restructure and not in a way that's going to completely ruin the children. It's not easy work, I'll tell you that."

Gaetano Ferro, a family lawyer in Darien who has chaired the Connecticut Bar Association's Family Law Section and served as president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, argues that parents most often drive up costs in custody battles.

"Parents who are complaining are the parents who are fighting about custody," said Ferro. "If they resolved custody in a reasonable fashion, there wouldn't be GALs and fees to fight about and argue about. Most of the custody fights in Connecticut are not fights between two good parents and usually involve one parent who has significant problems."

Ferro said a parent who objects to a guardian ad litem's fees can request a hearing before a judge. He said he has heard of cases where a judge has failed to award fees to a GAL. As for overcharging, he said: "Sure, it can happen. But it's not prevalent."

Ferro believes the same people complaining about GALs are also the ones complaining about attorney fees.

"Mediate, negotiate, and then it won't cost as much," he said. "If you're reasonable [during custody proceedings], you have less to fight about and you get charged less."

What's being said

  • Marisa Ringel

    Why is a GAL remaining on a case if she/he is unable to solve any of the issues? Here is a recommendation that I hope Thomas Weissmuller and the rest of the task force is listening to: Put a term limit on a GAL. Give them 6 mos, or 1 year, to solve the disputes. Then have their term expire. If both parties agree to keep them on, so be it. But if one party does not, then get them off the case after a year. The GAL should give their report into the case file at 6 mos and at 1 year, and then move off the case. If they can?t help in a years time then that guardian is not the right person for that family.

    I would say to those guardian ad litem or attorneys that say ??the costs are being run up by ?conflict addicted? parents.? this: Why are you staying on the case taking money from an addict? Remove yourself. If you can?t help stop the conflict you are NOT the right guardian ad litem or NOT the right attorney for the family. Get off the case. Stop just sitting there in the middle of the conflict collecting money and doing nothing effective. To the attorneys and guardian ad litems that stay on high-conflict cases I will say this, you might call us ?conflict-addicted?, I will call you ?solution inept?.

    Good luck to the Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children. This state needs your wisdom and guidance desperately.

    God bless the children,
    Marisa Ringel

  • Andrew

    The GAL system in Connecticut is simply an scam run by judges for benefit of their lawyer friends. The state contracts for GAL services through Office of Chief Public Defender at $50/hr. Judges make parents who have money pay their pet GAL's $300 /hr. Susan Storey has plenty of qualified GAL's on her list that get no work, but judges keep the spoils going to their friends. No tax reporting, no documentation of work performed, just the judge's nod that the parents must pay. In other states the rate is set by the court and paid by the state. Avoids the conflict of interest created when the judge's pet lawyer is appointed to bankrupt the parents and steal money saved for the future of the children. Pretty good gig. Sheeple of Corrupticut cannot govern their own courts.

    Funny how their is no auditable trail of the payments to these GAL's. A $40k transaction ordered by the court goes unreported to the IRS......now just guess why?

  • Nicole

    So give up fighting for your child or go bankrupt??? Real nice!

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