Guardian Ad Litem Reform

Citizens working to protect children and stop the destruction of the family by Family Court injustice.

Archive for the ‘Family Court Abuse’ Category

What Would You Do If The Government Took Your Child? …

Posted by CultureVigilante on March 12, 2012

… And there were no allegations of  abuse, educational or physical neglect. Stories like this one fly under the radar of main stream America, but in reality are more common that you think.

Here is another story of a family who is suffering at the dismantling of their family at the hands of government.

As the year during which Chloe was forced into the state DCFS system wore on, she was placed in mental health wards –where state money naturally followed her internment — even though there was never any determination that she had mental problems, she was given birth control pills by planned parenthood against her religious parent’s desires, she was sexually exploited by the 20-year-old male friend of a “foster parent” — and was raped three times by this man who lived in the same apartment complex as the foster family — and finally, after getting out of the system, left state custody pregnant.

In this case, as in so many others, the government stepped in and made decisions about a family, their parenting, and a child’s (teenager’s) well-being and unilaterally removed the child from her home. After a couple of years in state care she is raped and pregnant. Tell me again why this is allowed to happen and heads are not rolling? What would you do, if this were your child?

Posted in Family Court Abuse, Judicial Reform | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

U.S. Senate Hearing To Mandate Oppressive Reporting Laws For Child Neglect/Abuse

Posted by CultureVigilante on December 12, 2011

We have outlined, here, some of the abuses of courts and government departments that oversee families and domestic issues. Tomorrow, there is a bill that goes on the floor for debate that would require mandatory reporting by all adults of child abuse and neglect. While, of course, anyone should do so who is truly a witness to such bad acts, but a law requiring/mandating such action would absolutely lead to privacy violations within families as well as false allegations of abuse and neglect which would in turn clutter up the system, making it even more difficult to identify those truly at risk. And do we really want to increase the federal government’s roll in social services investigations.

S. 1877  is due for a Senate hearing tomorrow and you are urged to contact your representatives now to discourage this harmful and oppressive legislation.

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLA) offers some background on the issue:

Background:
S. 1877 will amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to require—for the first time ever—every single state that receives federal funding under CAPTA to force every single adult to be a mandatory reporter of child abuse or neglect. Currently, most states only require certain people (e.g., doctors and teachers) to be mandatory reporters. HSLDA opposes this for the following reasons:

  • The federal government should not force the states to make every single adult a mandatory reporter of child abuse and neglect as a condition for receiving certain federal money. This is a violation of the principle of federalism. The federal government has no constitutional authority to force the states to make every adult a mandatory reporter.
  • Forcing the states to make every single adult a mandatory reporter with no exceptions will lead to a police-state environment, where every adult is forced to act as an informer against friends, family, and neighbors, or face possible charges. There are grave threats to liberty and personal privacy that could result from this.
  • Forcing every adult to be a mandatory reporter will likely lead to a massive increase in child abuse and neglect accusations and subsequent investigations. Individuals will likely report suspected child abuse and neglect out of an abundance of caution so they do not face possible charges. Instead of protecting children, this will (1) harm innocent families as they face baseless investigations, and (2) waste the time of social workers on baseless investigations, instead of protecting children who are actually being abused or neglected.

S. 1877 also creates a massive federally funded educational campaign and training program to inform citizens about the new mandatory reporting of child abuse laws in the states. HSLDA opposes this for the following reasons:

  • In a time of federal budget deficits, the federal government should not be spending $5 million to $10 million per year on a program that should be left to the states.
  • Although the program is established in S. 1877 as a federal grant program to the states, the secretary of Health and Human Services is given the authority to “develop and disseminate guidance and information on best practices for” the entire educational campaign and training program. This could easily lead to the federal government mandating to the states the entire reporting campaign.

In conclusion, S. 1877 will lead to a massive increase in child abuse and neglect investigations upon families. The stated purpose of S. 1877’s mandatory reporting expansion, along with the education campaign and training program is to “improve reporting” of child abuse and neglect. The bill will give states new federal grants to set up“experimental, model, and demonstration programs for testing innovative approaches and techniques that may improve reporting of and response to suspected and known incidents of child abuse or neglect by adults to the State child protective service agencies or to law enforcement agencies.”

Not only will S. 1877 require every single adult to be a mandatory reporter, S. 1877 will incentivize states to create untested, “experimental” programs that will increase the number of child abuse and neglect reports to CPS agencies.

HSLDA has seen firsthand how malicious or ignorant child abuse and neglect allegations have destroyed innocent families. A family has few protections against the power of CPS agencies. And even if a CPS investigation is closed as unfounded, the trauma to a young child, to an innocent family as a stranger (albeit maybe a well-intentioned stranger) enters the home and threatens to remove the children, is lasting and profound.

S. 1877 is unnecessary. The states—using federal money under the existing CAPTA statute—are fully capable of protecting children from legitimate abuse and neglect. S. 1877 will create a massive police state of reporting and will lead to unnecessary abuse and neglect investigations.

Posted in Family Court Abuse | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Foster Children Are A Casualty In A Lucrative Government Bureaucracy

Posted by CultureVigilante on December 4, 2011

Watch this ABC video of how foster children are thrown under the bus, in the name of expediency, while they are shuffled through a bureaucratic government system that is supposed to be responsible for their best interests.

Posted in Family Court Abuse | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

What Really Motivates Lawyers In Missouri’s GAL System? Money!

Posted by CultureVigilante on October 5, 2011

Shortly after I posted my commentary on the newly revised Missouri guardian ad litem standards, I was contacted by Missouri Lawyer’s Media/Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly for comment. Ms. Allison Retka was kind enough to forward the complete article for your reading pleasure since the site is a member’s only publication and closed to the public.

Under new policy, Guardians ad litem must also be attorneys; GAL training hours reduced

by Allison Retka

Published: September 27th, 2011

A revamped set of standards for guardians ad litem took effect on Sept. 1 throughout Missouri.

Under the new standards, guardians ad litem must possess a law license. The standards also cut the initial training requirement for GALs from 12 to eight hours, and reduced their continuing legal education requirements from six hours to three.

“There was a lot of people who didn’t want the mandatory training because it was difficult for some people, in particular those in rural areas, to get the training,” said Martina Peterson, a family court commissioner in the Jackson County Circuit Court who co-chaired the committee that changed the standards.

“Financially and time-wise, it was difficult for them to be able to do a significant amount of training,” she said.

Guardians ad litem represent the interests of children in various types of court cases, from divorces, adoptions and juvenile criminal proceedings to child abuse and neglect cases.

The separate state statutes governing those areas of law require GALs to file motions, subpoena witnesses and appeal rulings, Peterson said. The law requires them, in effect, to practice law, she said, so GAL standards needed to reflect that.

Peterson said the committee considering the standards received little feedback from family court litigants. But one parent took to the Web earlier this month to protest elements of the new GAL standards.

Lisa Payne-Naeger, a mother in Lake Saint Louis, blogged about the new standards on her site, Guardian Ad Litem Reform. Payne-Naeger endured a contentious divorce and custody dispute in 2008 in St. Charles County Circuit Court. She said she worried that the attorney requirement will carry along with it the hefty attorney’s fees that parents must pay to the GAL assigned to their cases.

“It’s a money-grab thing,” Payne-Naeger said. “I do not believe the GAL is there to represent the children. Most of the time the GAL advocates for one or the other parent.”  She said in her divorce case, she and her ex-husband paid their guardian ad litem, Benicia Livorsi, $80,000 in GAL fees. Livorsi didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Peterson’s said Payne-Naeger’s costly GAL experience is an extraordinary case.

“You can’t let extraordinary cases or situations guide what happens across the state,” Peterson said. “Most guardians ad litem make very little money at all doing this type of work.”

Belinda S. Elliston, another committee member and guardian ad litem in Jasper County, said the attorney requirement may affect some circuits that relied heavily on Missouri’s network of court-appointed special advocates (CASA) for GAL work. But CASA organizations maintain staff attorneys to represent the interest of children. Beth Dessem, the executive director of Missouri’s CASA Association, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Elliston, a Lamar attorney who also works as legal counsel for the Jasper County Juvenile Office, said she appreciated the reduction in training hours. Attorneys can now avoid two days of initial training hours, which require an overnight stay and two days away from their law offices.

“When I’m out of my office, I’m not making money,” Elliston said. “And I can’t pay my bills if I’m not earning my income and having billable hours.”

The new regulations are “more reflective of what would be a practical expectation of folks serving as guardians ad litem,” Elliston said. “It provides a better service for the children in these cases, which is the ultimate goal.”

Read more bout the new standards. (PDF)

 After reading the article, it was, again abundantly clear to me, the legal system is full of people who don’t give a flying fig about the people/children they represent, it’s all about the money, and they don’t really care about how they present themselves. Perhaps the reason why they behave this way is because the judicial branch of the government is so used to operating without oversight and consequence for bad actions, they can react with flip remarks without repercussion. And they know it.
The new standards state: Guardian ad litem practice is unique and complex and, as such, requires specialized education, training, and experience.Really? Are they kidding? It must be so unique and complex that it should not require attorneys to be so burdened with time consuming efforts to educate themselves as to those uniquenesses and complexities. Right?
Why are attorneys complaining about generating income when almost all of the people they are supposed to be acting on behalf of are having their life savings drained to have their families and interests represented in courts? You continually hear, especially in cases of divorce, that no one wins, except the attorneys. When most people enter into court actions, they almost always leave with a lot less money, often times their life savings are drained, in attempts to fight for the rights of their children and families. Are we really to believe the words of Martina Peterson when she describes that it was too “hard” to get the training and too burdensome, when the actions of GALs change lives, forever? I think they should be a little more sensitive to the people they are supposed to serve before they duck their training responsibilities.
To add emphasis to the fact that the judiciary had little concern for their obligations relating to guardian ad litem service, one only needs to read the legislation passed (SB237) in 2011 to mandate updating the standards. In fact, there was no direction in SB237 to implement improving the representation of children and families.
… standards for representation by guardians ad litem shall be updated and adopted statewide and each circuit shall devise a plan for implementation which takes into account the individual needs of their circuit as well as the negative impact that excessive caseload have upon effectiveness of counsel.
If you read my previous post, you would know that the biggest change to the standards requires all GALs to be licensed attorneys even though it is not required in the statutes. Convenient, again, especially in family courts where GALs stand to make more money on these cases. And is the judiciary setting the stage to eliminate the rights of citizens to represent themselves in court? Will we see statutes change in the future to line up with the standards? The last time I checked, citizens were allowed to represent themselves in courts, if they wanted to do so. Is it really a good idea for the courts to mandate away the rights of lay people act on their own behalf in court? Is this the first step to get us there?
Just a note to the lawyers: It’s not all about you! CASA volunteers have had access to attorneys, to fill in the gaps in their cases, should the need arise to file motions, etc. I would venture to say that there is a bit more to GAL work than filing legal briefs and cross examination. And perhaps, since the day has long past for laypeople to feel comfortable, and/or welcome, to represent themselves in court, if filing motions and asking questions in cross examination is so complex, its long past time for an overhaul of the legal system. Many, many people who have been dragged through the court system will tell you they most likely didn’t get anything close to the representation they paid an overpriced attorney for.
And finally, my GAL experience was not extraordinary. There are stories, across the nation, where people have been taken to the cleaners and misrepresented by GALs and family court representatives. I continually speak to and work with people, from across the country, who have been devastated by the corrupt family court system.
10/11/11 After Missouri Lawyers Weekly made contact with the GAL in question in their article, they printed the following correction:

Correction

A Sept. 27 article about recent changes to statewide guardian ad litem standards included a quote from Lisa Payne-Naeger that said St. Charles attorney Benicia Baker-Livorsi received $80,000 in GAL fees in a case. Livorsi received less than $10,000 in fees in a contentious two-year divorce case between Payne-Naeger and Jeffrey Naeger. We regret the error.

I will follow up on this issue and keep you posted.

Posted in Family Court Abuse, GAL Standards | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Family Court Corruption Stories In Missouri

Posted by CultureVigilante on June 22, 2011

Here are two stories of bad family court experiences and examples of how bad judgements in family courts reinforce a dysfunctional culture. Only outrage from the public will motivate change and accountability. Aren’t the children reason enough to change the system?

Posted in Family Court Abuse | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Family Courts Get It Wrong Again, Dismantle The Family Culture In America

Posted by CultureVigilante on May 10, 2011

In this post on Culture Vigilante, you will read how a Durham family court judge sends a strong message about how she views the family structure of the community and country she serves. She also sends this message to the children involved in the case, who will forever be scarred by the lack of compassion and disregard she has for the children and mother before her in her court.

Cases like this are common in America, today. Most people are unaware of the atrocities that take place in courts until they are unfortunate enough to be entangle in the family court system. Read this story and be on the look out for others. There are many. They characterize the distinctive nature of rulings that come from family courts and how they shape, or dismantle, the family in America.

Posted in Family Court Abuse | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The State Can Take Your Children Away And You Have No Recourse

Posted by CultureVigilante on May 10, 2011

ParentalRights.org released this video, today, along with the tragic story of how the state of Michigan invaded a parent’s rights and took custody of their child. Stories of parental rights violation are happening all over the country. Parental rights are under attack and the attacker is the government, federal and state. The biggest ‘dirty little secret’ of our country is how family courts are unilaterally encroaching on fundamental rights of parents to destroy the family in our culture.

Posted in Family Court Abuse | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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