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GAL training complete

SASX's picture

It is official. All I have left is my swearing in ceremony this week and I am a GAL.

Now I have a favor to ask all of you ladies and gents on this board. Granted my knowledge may not help your individual cases, but your experiences may help me more effectively handle another family's case.

Now the GAL program I am working with deals with children who have been removed from the house. At this time we rarely deal with custody cases (though it has happened).

Those who have had a GAL involved in their life:

What do you wish they would have done differently?
What do you feel they did not take into consideration?
What do you think they glossed over?
What evidence did you present/ explain to them that you feel benefitted your case? Or worked against you?

With the understanding that GAL's are supposed to conduct their own investigations (I am supposed to interview all children, parents, grandparents, foster parents, doctors, teachers, counselors, ministers, neighbors and anyone else I am requested - by the interested parties: And come up with an independant opinion of the best interests of the child. Since I am doing GAL work pro-bono, I am not getting paid for my opinion... my recommendations are based off fact based investigations and interviews (aka you are not buying me off).

**Disclaimer: I do not believe that "best interests of the child" = child's wishes.**

Where do you think your GAL failed?
What do you wish they had done differently?
What obvious issue did they totally miss?


SASX's picture

In our program we are required to touch base with all "parties of interest" at least monthly

Which includes:
Guardians/ Foster parents
Case Worker
And our supervisors.

We have to turn in a monthly log showing that we have visited the children face to face at least onec a month, and have spoken with the other interested parties at least by phone each month.

You might want to call the GAL office and ensure (God I would hope a GAL wouldn't do this) that his/ her report isn't showing monthly communication when it is not happening.

Shaman29's picture

Congrats Sasx. I think you're one of the most fair and balanced people on this site.

DH didn't have a GAL in his case, but because of the complications (3 kids/3 Dads/crazy BM) the judge ordered a custody evaluator. The three dads and Uberskank had to have psyche evaluations and the custody evaluator interviewed the dads, the kids, Uberskank and me (DH and I were engaged at the time).

The custody evaluator concluded:

Uberskank suffers from NPD and is only concerned about controlling the relationships between the dads and the kids.
Uberskank clearly couched the kids before their interviews.
The dads were only concerned about the kids and were willing to compromise. However, Middle Dad held an unforgiving attitude towards Last Dad which was complicating the situation. DH (after reading the psych evaluations) had a more forgiving attitude towards LD, as the evaluation showed he was manipulated by Uberskank from the beginning.
DH and LD had a more traditional upbringing and it showed in their parenting skills.
MD was abused by his father as a kid and therefore displayed a reluctance for discipline.

The custody evaluator, much to my surprise, recommended that DH and MD have sole physical & legal custody of their kids. Uberskank and LD were married, so obviously there was no custody issue. The 100 yard order would be removed from the CO, so DH's kid and MD's kid could have regular visitation with Uberskank.

I felt, given the circumstances and information available at the time, the evaluator did an excellent job trying to piece together some semblance of truth in the situation. Considering Uberskank being a liar, coaching her children to speak badly of two of the dads and the emotions of the dads involved, the evaluator had to wade through a lot of crap. Her only concern was not what the parents wanted, but what was best for the three kids and how to get them through this with the least amount of damage.

I wish you all the best and I hope this is very rewarding for you and the children that will fall under your care and guidance.

Shaman29's picture

Oh trust me......the entire situation was and is a complete goat screw. I had a hard time keeping everything straight too.

I kid you not, the last time DH was in court for custody, there were two stacks of files on the judge's bench. Each one was about a foot and a half high. When Uberskank started running her mouth about what a great mother she is, the judge patted the two stacks and said, "These just represent the case between you and Mr DH. I know exactly what kind of mother you are!"

SASX's picture

Yes, he should have.

The reports I submit to court start off with "Recommendations" and then bullet style beneath the title are recommendations for custody, parenting time, medical needs, support needs, visitation time... there are literally 15 subsections.

Then there are up to 14 pages attached to explain WHY I made the recommendation listed on page one. I go to court with an attorney, who can submit evidence, call witnesses etc. So I will make sure that my reasoning for recommendations is fully filled out in all cases.

bearcub25's picture

When the skids were taken from BM and given to SO (my year of total hell), the GAL was the brightest spot of the whole mess. She helped out SO with court papers and answers to questions then the CPS officer, his lawyer or the courts ever did.

even though having custody of the skids isn't what I wanted, she was absolutely wonderful to work with and was very fair.

So, I just wanted to say, be fair and listen to all sides.

SASX's picture

I will be honest that I hear the stories of what you ladies have been through with the court systems and GAL and just shake my head...

The government body that "creates" GAL's is called CASA. There are rules and regulations that GAL's are supposed to follow. And in several of these accounts you have posted: they failed, miserably failed. Look up That is the federal governing body.

Other differences may just be state to state.

In Florida every child has a CBHA if they are removed from the home. Abuse, neglect, medical neglect, substance abuse and DV (even if the violence is not vs the child) are all reasons children can and will be removed from their homes.

CBHA: Comprehensive Behavioral Health Assessment is required within the first 2 weeks of a child being sheltered by the state. The comprehensive part means the parents are a part of the assessment. The counselors that perform these assessments are state employees or employed by the United Way. Cost is negligible to none. If the counselor recommends (90% of the time they do) a psych eval on the parents, it is REQUIRED. Done. The parents will comply or will not see their children without supervision from the state.

Once the eval is done they can be ordered into treatment, counceling, therapy etc. Failure to follow the order can and normally does end up in their parental rights being terminated. Mind you, they have 18 freaking months to make the first appointment to show that they will eventually comply... but they are not just allowed to ignore the order and eventually get their kids back anyway.