'Astronomical' Fees Assessed To Lawyer Who Testified For GAL Reform

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

   | 17 Comments

A Connecticut lawyer who publicly voiced his concerns about high costs of guardians ad litem services was shocked by the timing of an Appellate Court decision in his own divorce case.

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What's being said

  • T

    Paul Greenan paid his lawyers $400,000 & ‘borrowed‘ $400K from his mother and charged it to the estate.
    As to the breakdown of the marriage, "The plaintiff was arrested on February 8, 2010, on drug-related charges..The plaintiff was fired by Morgan Stanley/Smith Barney as a consequence." His refusal to take a certain type of drug test resulted "in the continued requirement of supervised visitation with his children ... empathy for his children and prioritization of their needs over his own continue to be areas of difficulty.”
    The trial court‘s comments on the children are benign; he notes that they did suffer as a result of a contentious divorce but were otherwise doing well. The ONLY person who put into the public milieu the children‘s difficulties is PAUL GREENAN himself, in the Appellate brief that he filed not only with the Court, but with the LEGISLATURE. He substituted that pile of steaming doo as his ‘testimony‘ to the task force, rather than file anything even remotely relevant. Why? Because he‘s a narcissist. He clearly seems to love that he‘s some sort of hero to a core group of 30 or 40 parties to high conflict cases. After all, and ironically, he‘s a lawyer! He can speak to what these conspiracy theorists see as a culture of corruption because he‘s an insider, right?
    The fact is, those people all share a common trait: incredible narcissism. It is never about them or the things that THEY do that hurt and embarrass their children. It is never about the waste of resources --the literal depletion of family assets--that would otherwise go towards maintaining a sense of normalcy for these kids. Rather, it is a slash and burn, win-at-all-cost mentality that no one can argue with--because you can‘t win against narcissists.
    Finally, I hope the haters take note that the wife‘s attorney thinks the decision was reasonable: Why? Because he was privy to the plaintiff‘s despicable behavior with regards to asset depletion, visitation, and entitlement. The GAL/AMC here did the best they could with the tool that was Mr. Greenan. He‘s lucky: He got away with paying $105. a week for two kids; retained a $399K escrow account, and pays a tiny co-share of many other expenses. Even so, I‘d have to believe his ex-wife is the lucky one here: she‘s not married to him anymore. I wish her and her children the very best.

  • t

    test

  • Jennifer Verraneault

    The amount of money a parent pays for his or her counsel has absolutely nothing to do with how much a GAL or AMC should be paid. If I can afford $300 per hour for an attorney to represent me in a family matter, it doesn‘t mean that I should have to spend $300 per hour for a GAL. We are not talking about abuse and neglect cases. This argument was mentioned a few times while I was sitting on the Task Force to Study the Care and Custody for Minor Children by full time GAL/AMC Co-chair Sharon Dornfeld; I respectfully disagree with this philosophy. In a more simpler analogy: if I purchase a car for myself then I should purchase the same for my 16 year old. Just because I choose to purchase a particular vehicle or hire an attorney to represent my right to a fair trial/day in court, this doesn‘t mean I can or should pay the same for a GAL or AMC. This reasoning doesn‘t make sense to me.

  • TS

    Here‘s some advise for Sarah, the client is the boss. They make the decision. Lawyers give us options and recommendations, the client makes the call.

  • S

    The refusal of some disgruntled litigants to take responsibility for driving their own litigation, consuming so many resources (the court‘s and their family‘s) and exposing their children to court intervention is astounding. Many of these people are merely continuing the unending fight they justifiably lost in court by taking it to the legislature (if only some legislators could see beyond their next election) or the internet where their obsession with maligning their ex-spouse, focus on baseless conspiracy theories and blaming everyone but themselves for their predicament gains unfortunate traction with, yes, a fringe element that so readily lends an ear . . . and more conspiracies. If you don‘t want large GAL fees and you don‘t want to be in court, there are many, many ways around it. You don‘t hear from the vast majority of people that go through divorce and custody matters, put their children before their anger and manage to navigate through the "system" with minimal interference because their well-adjusted, well-intentioned people who tried and succeeded in seeing the "big picture" and put their kids first, no matter how hard tht may have been for them at the time. I am sure this litigant spent every dollar of the GAL‘s and AMC‘s time! Now he simply has to pay for what he did.

  • Anonymous

    I do not understand why Judge Robert Beach, who wrote the appeal decision in Greenan v. Greenan, did not address two main issues contained in the father‘s appeal brief: the AMC, Melissa Needle, never met the children and the trial court‘s final orders contains the names of the children, their home addresses and protected medical information.

    Is it ethical for a GAL to have knowledge of the fact that the children have a problem meeting with him and the GAL does not immediately inform the court and yet continues billing high fees?

    Is it ethical for an AMC to submit proposed orders at the time of trial and not inform the court that she never even met the children who are the subject of the proposed orders?

    Is it ethical for the Appeals Court to conclude that the actions of the GAL and the AMC are "in the best interests of the children"?

    Are we to conclude now that this behavior is permissible and sanctioned by the State of Connecticut?

    Shall we quote Greenan v. Greenan when the GAL or AMC charge outrageous fees for little or no work and state they are not required to meet with the children because the Appeals Court approves?

    Shall we quote Greenan v. Greenan and say that is perfectly alright when classmates and friends of the children quote Greenan v. Greenan to the Greenan children?

    Have these judges never heard of the internet or Google?

    This case will go down in infamy in the State of Connecticut. We should all be ashamed.

  • Sarah

    Here is some advice for the divorce industry: STOP blaming your clients. What other professional industry does that? Parents are following YOUR advice, and doing what YOU tell them to do. Do better and stop blaming the people whose money you are taking from them every day - for literally nothing. Start showing meaningful results like everyone else in the world, or quit. But stop blaming the people who are coming to you for help and closure, only to find themselves taken advantage of and manipulated by YOU.

  • The AFCC

    The "small group" that are the actual problem are the very small number of elitist few family law GALs being assigned all of the cases - by judges who used to be GALs. All members of the AFCC. A glance at the composition of the "Family Commission" speaks volumes - they don‘t even try and hide it! And the Judiciary dares to cry about "judicial independence?" When family court judges are working hand in hand with some of the worst and most unethical GALS and court vendors out there? Talking about individual cases at AFCC conferences and gatherings? What‘s needed is a formal investigation into all of the rampant corruption, violations of law, violations of due process and abuses against Pro Se parties who dare ask why their rights are being trampled and why they, their families and their children are being taken advantage of every day in our courthouses as judges are shaking them down for every penny they have - and throwing them in jail for not being able to pay. Beyond despicable.

  • Bob

    Over 800 parents signed a petition asking for much needed reforms of our out-of-control and corrupt family court GAL system. Over 3,000 parents sent emails and letters to legislators - each with their own horror stories of family court abuses and financial terrorism waged against them by unethical judges and GALs. Please, let stop with the nonsense that this "a small group of litigants." This is a nationwide movement growing stronger every day and as people are becoming educated on how bad this problem really is. Three of our candidates for governor are also victims of family court abuses and are speaking out and making this a major campaign issue. Sorry, but the days or wine and roses for corrupt GALs are over. A self inflicted wound.

  • Joanne

    Fringe element?? It is that very distain for the parents involved in Connecticut‘s family system that is the problem. GALs who think parents fighting for what they believe is best for their children are "fringe" should removed from the GAL list.

  • Ann

    $253,000 is a HOUSE. No one‘s opinion based on four and half hours with anyone - is worth $56,222/hour. Beyond disgusting.

  • Joanne

    Interesting....

  • Anonymous

    It is amazing to me that a small group of litigants has been able to influence so many people against attorneys who do their jobs and do them well. The result is that many of us who act as GALs are NOT being paid at all. Judges are now so afraid if this fringe element that some family judges have stated publicly that they will no longer award attorneys fees out of fear of what will happen at their reappointment hearings. Maybe it is time to think about the lawyers who are unable to pay their own bills and being forced into a financial morass by abusive litigants and judges.

  • MrInsBrokerCA

    Anytime people have disputes that one party, the other, or both refuse to be reasonable about settling, the case will be difficult, frustrating, and more expensive. In some cases experts may be needed to evaluate children‘s needs etc., but you would think that any fees charged would require appropriate documentation not place an undue burden on the family. I guess not. I wonder how other states compare with CN on this?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe someone can ask how much Mr. Greenan paid his own attorneys for the same time frame and then decide how to characterize the fees paid to professionals to protect the children from their parent‘s contentious litigation.

  • S.S

    Perhaps its time to reign in judges "broad discretion" in family matters, given how frequently and blatantly that discretion is being used to unfairly abuse and punish litigants, especially Pro Se litigants, and to cause undo, unwarranted and very real harm to families and children and in a manner contrary to the public interest. No one‘s opinion after spending a few hours with a child is worth $253,000. That is not reflective of proper representation of any action in the "best interests of a child."

  • P.S.

    It‘s well past time for the state or Justice Rogers to open a formal and independent investigation into the rampant corruption and abuse of discretion happening in our family courts. Our judges are out of control, acting like armed thugs, and ignoring the concerns and best interests of children, families and the public. Shouldn‘t we all be ashamed?

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