Guardian Ad Litem Reform

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

Testimonials

6 Responses to “Testimonials”

  1. Bob McCarty outlines here, very well, the testimonial a family that was the victim of family court injustice. So often families/children are abused by a system that seemingly has no checks and balances, and they feel they have no recourse to address the wrongs inflicted upon them by those who abuse their authority.

    http://bobmccarty.com/2011/04/26/lives-turned-upside-down-in-family-court/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lives-turned-upside-down-in-family-court

    Lives ‘Turned Upside Down’ in Family Court
    April 26th, 2011 · 4 Comments

    EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below is based on an actual Missouri Family Court case; however, all names, dates and other case-specific personal details in the story have been changed in order to protect the identities of those involved. It is one of several cases about which details have been shared with me by individuals advocating Family Court reform in the Show-Me State.

    A STAY-AT-HOME MOTHER OF FIVE, “Jane” endured years of physical, verbal and sexual abuse at the hands of “John.” Then, she said, he began to physically and sexually abuse their children, too. That’s when she drew the line, whisked her children out of their home, loaded them into a car and fled to a nearby shelter.

    At the shelter, Jane filed for protective orders against John on behalf of each of her children and herself. The police officer who took the report, she said, told her afterward that two of her children should undergo forensic interviews during which investigators could learn more about the alleged abuse. In addition, he told her he had filed for a warrant for John’s arrest with the county prosecutor’s office.

    After John learned of her actions, Jane explained, he filed for divorce, emptied their joint bank accounts and hired a team of attorneys who went to work quickly.

    Not only did John’s attorneys fictionalize the chain of events that led the couple to the courthouse, Jane said, but they framed the case as one involving a heated divorce and worked overtime to portray her as “the crazy wife” trying to make her husband look bad in the eyes of the judge. Along the way, they received help from both inside and outside the courthouse.

    They received their first bit of help from a state social worker, Jane said, who had a mysterious “change of heart” after initially being on her side. With little explanation, the social worker declared the children’s multiple graphic disclosures of molestation by their father — once deemed substantial enough to prompt a police officer to call for forensic interviews and to apply for an arrest warrant against John — “unsubstantiated.”

    Jane said she never received a satisfactory explanation for the social worker’s change of heart, but she did see the impact it had on the case: No forensic interviews were ever conducted; no law enforcement investigation was ever launched; and no warrant for John’s arrest was ever issued. In addition, the Family Court judge accepted a recommendation made by the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) — an attorney appointed by the judge, purportedly to look out for the best interests of the children in the case — and granted “2-2-5 custody” to the parents.

    The arrangement, common in Family Court cases, provided each parent two consecutive days of custody during the week plus every other weekend. During a typical week, Jane had the kids Monday and Tuesday before John took them Wednesday and Thursday. Every other week, the kids spent five consecutive nights with John.

    John’s attorneys received a second bit of help from a psychologist who, at a cost of several thousand dollars, produced a report that painted their client in a positive light. While the judge accepted that report, Jane said, he rejected a report prepared on her behalf by another psychologist whose credentials are, arguably, superior to those of John’s “hired gun.” Not surprisingly, the reports offered findings 180 degrees opposite each other.

    When it finally arrived, the judge’s decision wasn’t quite the slam-dunk victory John’s attorneys had probably hoped to obtain for their client, but it must have came close.

    The judge ordered a 50/50 custody arrangement, Jane said, meaning she will have to continue handing over her children to John.

    In addition, the judge awarded Jane nothing in alimony and little in child support while adding miscellaneous other costs to the burden she is expected to bear; he ordered her to pay thousands of dollars more to attorneys; and he reduced significantly the amount of money John would have to pay her as her “fair share” of their remaining joint assets.

    The judge also gave the family home to Jane. On the surface, that might seem like a good thing, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

    “The mortgage on the house is ‘under water,’” Jane said. It’s worth less than is owed on the mortgage as a result of John borrowing money against the home several times.

    Now broke and without a job after being a busy stay-at-home mom for most of their married years, Jane fears she’ll be forced to walk away from the home and leave her credit in ruins.

    “It feels as if our lives have been turned upside down,” Jane said upon being asked to describe the family’s lengthy court battle. “Right and wrong have been reversed, and truth is no longer the standard.”

    On top of being broke financially after spending all she had on attorneys, Jane’s tapped out emotionally and fearful that no one outside the case will learn what she says is the truth until it’s too late and that her children suffer abuse even worse than before at the hands of their father.

    At this point, Jane’s only legal recourse appears to be filing an appeal to a higher court. Without money, though, she might resort to another tactic — going public or something else. For now, she doesn’t want to show her hand and is only thinking about what’s best for her children.

    If, at some point, she decides to level accusations — against the Family Court judge, the GAL and/or others — as part of an effort to have the judge’s ruling overturned, two factors will be working against her:

    First, the Missouri House has impeached only two Missouri judges since the Civil War era, and both resigned before they could be removed, according to the Missouri Courts web site; and

    Second, GALs are accountable only to the judges who appoint them, according to a Missouri Courts spokesperson with whom I spoke earlier this month [See Transparency Missing in Missouri Senate, Courts for details.].

    Hence, the need for Family Court reform.

    Stay tuned for more stories in my series, Family Court Nightmares.

  2. On June 6th, Bob McCarty Writes posted a follow-up to “Jane’s” story:

    http://bobmccarty.com/2011/04/26/lives-turned-upside-down-in-family-court/

  3. MORE FAMILY COURT ABUSE!!!

    Today, Bob McCarty, once again outlined another instance of FAMILY COURT ABUSE. Who is looking out for the best interests of children. It certainly isn’t the JUDGE!

    http://bit.ly/mrzlpH

    Missouri Dad Spends $100K (so far) Fighting to Save His Kids From Their Violent, Ex-Con Mother
    June 13th, 2011 · No Comments

    EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below involves an actual Missouri Family Court case; however, all names, dates and other case-specific personal details in the story have been changed in order to protect the identities of the innocent people involved. It is one of several cases about which details have been shared with me by individuals advocating for Family Court reform in the Show-Me State.

    In a case that has dragged on for years, a Missouri Family Court judge seems to be doing his level best to ensure three young children end up in the custody of the wrong parent. Hanging over the case is one question: “Why?”

    I refer to the biological parents in this case as “Jack and Jill.”

    Jack has never been in trouble with the law, while Jill is the violent, drug- and alcohol-addicted, drug-dealing, ex-convict mother of his children.

    Several law enforcement agencies in the counties where Jill roams are familiar with the woman. She has attempted suicide more than once, been arrested dozens of times, been imprisoned several times and, when not behind bars, continues to hang out with known drug dealers, prostitutes and other felons, according to court records, police reports and other official documents shared with me by people close to the case.

    Attorneys in the same area are more familiar with Jack, because he’s had to hire so many of them. One after another dropped him as a client after he refused to agree to any kind of shared-custody arrangements they had negotiated, Jack said. So far, his latest attorney seems to be more focused than his predecessors on winning. Here’s to hoping that remains the case.

    Jill, on the other hand, has somehow managed to keep one attorney at her beck and call for years despite having no legitimate source of employment or place of residence, according to court records. Some think drug money and prostitution revenue pay her bills. Whether the same influence has anything to do with Jack’s “revolving door” of attorneys is anyone’s guess.

    In addition to dealing with that revolving door, Jack has fought hard trying to convince the judge to consider the expert testimony of impartial physicians, psychologists and counselors. Why? Because, Jack said, the so-called “experts” tapped by the court to perform interviews, exams, etc., had major flaws.

    For example, a child psychologist/counselor who had once lost his license to practice in Missouri due to misconduct, was appointed by the judge to interview/examine the children, according to public records available on the Missouri Division of Professional Registration website.

    While relying upon the less-than-stellar court-appointed expert, Jack said, the judge ignored the opinions of several highly-respected physicians at a renowned area medical center. Those physicians examined Jack’s children for signs of sexual abuse and/or molestation and, afterward, advised against allowing the children to be returned to the locations where the incidents of alleged abuse took place or to associate with those who had allowed the abuse to occur (i.e., the children’s mother and her associates).

    The judge also ignored letters from others involved in the children’s lives on a regular basis (i.e., teachers, social workers et al). In those letters, copies of which I’ve read, the authors concurred with the medical experts’ shared opinion that the children should be kept away from the mother.

    Another area of concern for Jack is the work of the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), a court-appointed attorney whose purported role is to look out for the best interests of his children throughout the legal proceedings. According to Jack, the GAL assigned to his children has not had contact with them — in person or by phone — for almost three years.

    To date, Jack’s fight has dragged on for nearly half a decade and has cost him and the members of his extended family who’ve helped him more than $100,000 in attorneys fees and related court costs. That figure, I’ve learned from people with firsthand knowledge of the Family Court system, is not atypical.

    In addition to eating up his life savings, the court battle has eroded Jack’s belief in the justice system. Still, he fights, he said, because he knows what kind of future his children are likely to have — one involving crime, drugs, prostitution and violence — if their mother is allowed to be involved in their lives.

    As Jack awaits the judge’s ruling in this case, hope seems an extremely-costly pipe dream.

    • MommaBear said

      Yes, this is another tragic story. I am not “Jane,” but this is eerily similar to what I am going through. And yes, I am in Missouri. The GAL forced me into a corner. I had to settle with her recommendation of 50/50 and yes the 2 2 5 plan ~ that I learned about from my young son. If I didn’t, and opposed it in any way, she threatened to change her recommendation that son’s father get sole legal and sole physical custody. The details are too many to leave here. He successfully lied so many times even me speaking the truth came out in a muddy wash. Even though he is extremely abusive and I have proof and he just met 8 yr old son less than 2 years ago…….I never thought this would happen. Now, I am out $40,000 from trying to protect my son from a man he just met and is so sick he laughs at and belittles son any chance he gets. It is just disgusting. Legalized abuse. There is no justice.

  4. Lucinda hearl said

    I really feel sorry for anyone who loves their children, having to be involved with the court system to determine their future lives. Especilly if they are in McDonald county. I went through five years of having a corrupt lawyer who sold my case out, a gardian ad litem who is known as the devil who excaped from hell and a judge who had no idea what was happening with these two lawyers in his court room. I tried to find help from someone who was above these lawyers to help this little boy and all doors were slammed shut. A little boy of eleven years old named Justice, cried to the judge to please not make him live with his mother, was returned to his mother and taken from a warm bed to a camp ground without even a sleeping bag or food. This child was sexually, mentally and physically abused and the lawyers would not even let his pediatriction testify in court. In fact, no one was allowed in the court to testify on the child’s behalf. We were told the judge did not have time to hear them in court. This all took place in September of 2009. This is a story even Stephen King would never be able to write. To this day I have not been able to do anything about this corruption that took place for over five years.

    • Tara Henderson said

      I am still in the middle of trying to get my 3 sons away from my ex-husband and his new wife who are extremely abusive. Their dad however, is friends with the corrupt law enforcement here. He is about to get out of a criminal case where he and his wife tried to chain a 7 month woman up in dog chains and padlocks. He is a bail bondsman. I have years of documentation and even a court deposition in which he admits to abusing me. The boys talk about him hitting them with rubber hoses, etc. He is very manipulative. His wife has been accused of sexually molesting my 12 year son. People are scared of this man….and yes….the guardian ad litem we had was not willing to step up for my boys. It is a sickening situation. The scariest and most manipulative person in the case seems to win especially at the children’s expense. By the way we were ordered to share custody (legal and physical). What a living hell!

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