Custody Battle Costs Are Focus of Task Force
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."