If custody is in issue, a
for the child should be appointed to represent the child's best
Some of those interests are:
- to prevent parents from subjecting
child to multiple
evaluations in the hope of finding an expert who will support one or
- to prevent repeated interviews of
appointed by a court as a GAL does not guarantee
that the person
appointed has the requisite credentials and knowledge to fulfill her
his) responsibilities as a GAL.
- Do not hesitate to inquire about
- That the person may have been a
in the court for many years is not necessaily indicative of the
qualifications to act in the capacity of a GAL. Too many social
have not been trained under the watchful eye of a
qualified clinical psychologist. They are just put out there and
get "trained" on the job. More often than not, that simply is not
In Massachusetts, for
dangerous for both the child and the parent who is not the party
by the GAL:
- Do not hesitate to challenge the
appointment of an
unqualified person to the GAL position!
- the GAL is not required by law to
interview all the
parties or their representatives
- the GAL may include reports filled
- the GAL is not required to supply
the accused parent
- even a judge hearing the divorce
the GAL report (and attachments) from coming into evidence; the report
is automatically (by statute) considered evidence
Your one hope is that you will
get a judge
that the court-appointed GAL is not qualified. If the judge must,
as in Massachusetts (because of the statute), accept the report as
the judge need not give the report much, if any,
Yes, the judge can ignore the report even though it came into
The rationale is similar to that which a judge tells a jury: You
believe all the evidence, believe some of it, or believe none of it.
- another way of putting it:
report can be
filed in the court over the objection of the parent who was ignored by
the GAL, not been given access to the GAL, not been given copies of the
documents provided by nonparties to the GAL . . .
And while that may be helpful
to your cause
trial, the child's best interests have been ignored. In fact, the
child may have been damaged in the interim by improper procedures and
attention to the child's needs.
So be alert!
a driver's license does not mean you're a good driver. All that
a license means is that you drove well enough to pass the test on one
Keep that principle in mind when assessing the proposed GAL's
and qualifications and training and experience.
A PLEASANT NOTE: New
Hampshire courts appear to be more sophisticated than Massachusetts
in appointing GALs.