A Guardian Ad Litem Theoretically Protects


But, can they objectively Evaluate And Recommend Solutions

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A Guardian Ad Litem is often appointed in contentious divorces involving child custody.  The mandate of the Guardian (GAL) is to represent the best interests of the children. The GAL is typically a mental health professional or an attorney.  Although each state issues its own standards the fundamentals are generally universal.  The GAL's mandate is to investigate the family situation and advise the court about where a child should live and what type of contact each respective parent should have with the children.

Normally, the GAL will visit each household and interview all the involved individuals prior to making recommendations.  The involved individuals might include not only the parents and child but also other people such as siblings, grandparents, teachers, and even neighbors if appropriate. Impartiality and objectivity is critical in situations involving a GAL so clear and specific standards, and guidelines are established by state law.  For instance, a mental health professional who has previously met or consulted with a one parent cannot act as a GAL since impartiality may have been compromised.

When it became clear that my ex-husband was actively alienating my daughter from me I met with a psychologist with expertise in Parental Alienation.  As a result she had to disqualify herself when I suggested to the attorneys that she act as our GAL.  I know of one nationally known Alienation expert who forfeited his license to practice therapy because he breached this ethics code.

A Guardian Ad Litem will typically evaluate influencing factors such as:

  • The ages of the children
  • The children's current relationship with both parents
  • The stability of each parent's living situation
  • Each parent's ability to cooperate or learn to cooperate in caring for the child.
  • Any evidence of abuse or neglect

Based on the findings and recommendations of the GAL the court will deliver judgements and mandates that can include anything ranging from court ordered psychotherapy to the child's place of domicile to visitation rights, etc.

     The Problem With GALs

  • They are expensive
  • Some are reputed to lack objectivity
  • Many are unfamiliar with, are insensitive to, or reject the idea of "Parent Alienation."
  • Attorneys and Mental Health Professionals have different perspectives and with "Parent Alienation" a therapist is probably preferable.

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  • There are reports that GALs can be as vulnerable to the same manipulation and fabricated stories as the child they have been assigned to protect.  Alienator parents typically have a personality disorder such a severe narcissism and are very adept and persuasive lairs.  They probably believe their own lies and fabricated stories.
  • Those that are willing and able to consider "Parental Alienation"  may be hamstrung or limited by statute or court traditions and protocols.  For instance, in Rhode Island, if a child has reached age14 s/he can make their own decision about residency unless the GAL finds explicit evidence of physical or sexual abuse.  The Emotional abuse and manipulation caused by parental alienation is not open for consideration.  
  • By the time a GAL becomes involved the child often has already been alienated and is vociferous in the denigration of the targeted parent.  Consequently, the GAL might easily and mistakenly recommend that the child's residence be exclusively with the abusive parent.

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  • Information collected by the GAL is largely received outside the courts and since the interviews are not conducted under oath the information can be considered hearsay. Due to the unreliability of hearsay evidence and the inability for cross-examination, different courts even within the same jurisdiction often treat a GALs information and recommendations differently.
  • The trial court really has the responsibility for final determinations but some courts have inappropriately relied too heavily on the GAL report.  In some cases appellate courts have raised serious concerns about the role that GALS play in custody cases.
  • The over reliance on the Guardian Ad Litem and the inherent difficulty presented by Parental Alienation cases combined  with the possibility of pre-existing prejudice regarding the veracity of claims of Alienation can result in the courts relinquishing their responsibility to find resolutions that truly are in the best interests of the children.

In 2011 a very scholarly and comprehensive treatise regarding the Guardian Ad Litem was published in the Journal of Family Studies.  Click on the link to read it.

Table of Contents

Alienator Personality Types And Parental Alienation
Alienator Personality Types Perpetrate Parental Alienation
Personality Disorders And Parental Alienation
Personality Disorders Play A Significant Role In Parent Alienation
Convergent Emotional Disorders
The convergence Of Emotional Disorders Can Be The Key To Parental Alienation
Family Dynamics' Significance In Alienation
Family Dynamics And Individual Personalities Are Significant Factors In Parental Alienation
Child Advocacy Is Failing Families Battling Against Parental Alienation
Child Advocacy is Is Failing Families Battling Against Parental Alienation
Therapeutic Intervention In Parental Alienation
Early Therapeutic Intervention May Prevent Parent Alienation
Parental Alienation Destroyed My Family
A Carefully Executed Plan Of Parental Alienation Destroyed My Family
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