GALs Are Withdrawing From Cases As Court Reform Tensions Grow

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   | 13 Comments

Increasingly angry tactics have been pervading the public inquiry into family court custody reform, triggering a fight-or-flight response from top members of the family bar. Some are ready to throw in the towel, or at least take a long timeout.

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What's being said

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    One word: Corruption. That‘s what all of this is about.

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    So interesting AFCC was brought up! AFCC is not ethical for judges to belong, as found in last years AMLA ethics finding. Yet they are on the board! Deb Kulack- who runs CSSD family relations implemented AFCC programing. She evaluates it. She is also a principal in AFCC. Mary Lou Giovannucci, who runs CSSD court operations is second. The third is a preferred vendor with a constant stream of referrals from courts and imposed by GALs is Linda Smith Phd. Family Commission is teeming with AFCC members. The same names that come up with accusations of collusion, especially the "mental health" professionals are on repeat: Collin, Horowitz, Krieger, Robeson, Black (thankfully dead now) Berkowitz, Linda Smith. Judges are the final say. Attorneys represent more than their wallet, this includes the family law attorneys who flip flop for each other serving as GAL in one case, attorney on the other. I know of a person whose attorney told her that her husband was filing for sole custody so she had to as well. His attorney told the husband she was filing for sole custody. Neither had any intention of that. So after nearly 450k in legal fees, including the largest portion to the GAL and substantial payments to evaluators, therapists, parent coaches, parent counselors, supervisors, etc. Incidentally- these people are AFCC members too.
    Corruption? Collusion? Yes.
    Litigants‘ Constitutional Rights go out the window, first is the actual notion of ‘best interest of the child" used as the color of law to nothing short of racketeering and extortion.

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    I‘m new to this discussion, but I will be filing a grievance tomorrow against a GAL that went so far over the line of propriety that I have no choice.

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    If Attorneys are withdrawing as Guardian Ad Litem‘s that means the system is improving. Family Attorneys have no business acting on behalf of children and deciding the fate of children. Family Attorneys are WAY to SELF CENTERED for that job.

    Attorneys withdrawing as Guardian Ad Litems? GOOD RIDDANCE TO BAD RUBBISH!

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    Legislative reform must include a heightened standard of proof prior to the State depriving a fit parent of their constitutional right to bring up their children. Legislative reform also needs include curtailing much of the power that’s been handed over to the family courts by limiting their “broad discretion” to basically do anything they want without having it disturbed on appeal. These matters are far too important and life altering to require anything less as a part of reform. Criminals are entitled to a standard of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt prior to having their right to liberty stripped from them. Compare that to fit parents, who are handed the preponderance of the evidence standard with unbridled discretion of the trial court prior to having a custody transfer. This combination falls far below even the civil standard. Parents deserve better than this… Justice requires change.

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    There is something very wrong with the law in Connecticut when one minute you have full rights as a parent and the next minute as a result of nothing more than a suit being filed in family court all of your rights as a parent are swept out the window. The US Supreme Court has said that parents have fundamental liberty interests in the care, custody, control, and companionship of their children. These rights are individual in nature and can in no way depend on the marriage. The right to make parental decisions is a protected privacy right and as all attorneys know privacy rights are protected at strict scrutiny. Further, these "divorcing" parents are fit parents that are fundamentally no different than married fit parents. Yet the moment one of them files for divorce the State of Connecticut feels free to treat them as second class citizens and tell them that they no longer have a privacy right to make best interest determinations for their children. They are told that now a judge and a GAL will make those decisions. They have lost their most important constitutionally protected rights with no due process whatsoever and you have the gall to call them bitter. They are enraged that you would take their rights in this way and are learning from people like me how to fight for these constitutional rights.

    Ron B Palmer
    Constitutional Scholar in Family Law
    Author

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    Congratulations Connecticut families. We‘re paralleling your efforts in California and hope to report progress soon.

    Cole Stuart
    California Coalition for Families and Children
    www.weightiermatter.com

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    Government is of the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE, and by the PEOPLE. Not of the attorneys, by the attorney and for the judges. When one of our three branches of government goes astray and harms citizens, the other two must step in to take corrective action. Gone of the days when judges place gag orders on parents for daring to speak out about the abuses they have suffered in the family courts and how judges have denied children the right to see their parents solely to punish parents for daring what has been taken from them to pay horrific attorneys.

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    Both the article suggesting that "an atmosphere of bitterness" has become pervasive in family courtrooms and the decision by various firms to withdraw from the GAL lists would be comical if they occurred on Saturday Night Live instead of in a state that is universally viewed as one of the laggards when it comes to protecting the rights of children in disputed custody cases. What happened, of course, was that ‘the user public‘ was given an unprecedented opportunity by the Task Force Hearings to speak out about their experiences. Until then, since communication was strictly one way, from judges, GALs, the family bar, evaluators and the like to families. As a result, any bitterness was restricted to the courtroom or, more typically, to the halls outside. So all that has changed is one-on opportunity for consumers to speak about their experience or at least the significant minority with grievances. Now that the Pandora‘s box is opened, there are two alternatives, to shut it again, restore the muzzle on critics of the Court or to set up a process to soberly assess charges of corruption, bias, exhorbitant fees, conflicts of interest, lack of appropriate training in basic issues such as domestic violence (largely dismissed at the moment behind euphemisms such as "high conflict." Such an assessment cannot be carried out by the Court but requires independent facilitation and oversight by a Standing Task Force appointed by and accountable to the legislature and with significant representation from dissatisfied consumers. Evan Stark

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    Good news for Connecticut families. This role has not been defined well by the statutes, perhaps on purpose to benefit the industry. It‘s also a role that has been exploited by many professionals using the judicial branch component to act like a collection agency. The acts that have been conducted from individuals filling this role has been incomprehensible. My vote is for the entire system of GAL to be removed from family court matters.

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    I disagree with the perception that GAL‘s are being terrorized by angry parents.

    I will gladly show you the countless inappropriate threatening emails that the GAL in my case sent to me from threatening me with DCF to arrest for stalking.

    The only thing that is happening now is that the past GAL crimes are being exposed and the GAL‘s are concerned that prosecutors will be pursuing criminal charges against them or that they will be held liable for their past crimes.

    Parents are just now banding together to overcome the fear and PTSD that has been instilled in them by GAL‘s who for too long have run unsupervised.

    Hector Morera
    Glastonbury, CT

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    While I still don‘t know how I got on this list, I‘m sure glad I did.

    This article appears to suggest that family law attorneys and judges are being victimized.

    If CT is anything like MA, nothing could be further from the truth. Family Law attorneys and the judges they become are the bullies. They have been politely prodded for years to reform, but they are a stubborn, insensitive lot.

    The bar must accept responsibility for its atrocious behavior over the past 35 years (since the laws changed governing divorce.)

    Judicial independence does not mean they are independent from the law. Decisions rendered by bench often have no relationship to what the facts of the case are, much less the law.

    Where is the leadership from the Bench and the Bar? All I ever read about is their so called hurt feelings, how about all of the children they have abused.

    Patrick McCabe

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    How can there be "judicial independence" when attorney-GALs and members of the AFCC are working hand in hand with family court judges to influence court operations, set court policies and determine the outcomes of individual cases? One need only look at the membership of the Family Court‘s "Family Commission" to see the problem. The Judiciary doesn‘t even try to hide what family court judges engage in and how they direct the flow of money from already suffering parents to a very small group of elite GAL-attorneys with direct connections to family court judges.



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