Massachusetts Illegally Forcing Families to Pay for GALs

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April 11th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Massachusetts family law courts routinely violate the state’s laws requiring the state to pay for Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) representation for children. The position of GAL is much like so-called “minor’s counsel” in many other states. Parties filling these roles are to look out for the interest of minor children by such actions as investigating abuse claims, working with psychotherapists to ensure that parents and children will receive treatment necessary for the well-being of the children, and other such tasks.

In 1997, the Massachusetts Chief Justice for Administration and Management John Irwin wrote a memo ordering all the courts in the state to violate the law by charging families for GAL compensation, even though state law clearly indicates the state is to pay for such costs:

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 215, Section 56A:

Any judge of a probate court may appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate the facts of any proceeding pending in said court relating to or involving questions as to the care, custody or maintenance of minor children and as to any matter involving domestic relations except those for the investigation of which provision is made by section sixteen of chapter two hundred and eight. Said guardian ad litem shall, before final judgment or decree in such proceeding, report in writing to the court the results of the investigation, and such report shall be open to inspection to all the parties in such proceeding or their attorneys. The compensation shall be fixed by the court and shall be paid by the commonwealth, together with any expense approved by the court, upon certificate by the judge to the state treasurer. The state police, local police and probation officers shall assist the guardian ad litem so appointed, upon his request.

Even more appalling, the state’s own investigation of its GAL programs in 2001 showed that they are poorly implemented, assigned GALs often are inadequately trained, and children’s interests are not being protected. Furthermore, the report cited there was no clear process on how to file a complaint against a GAL in Massachusetts.

In particular, it appears the rapidly growing usage of GAL or minor’s counsel attorneys in child custody divorce cases is due to the widespread illegal practices of perjury and false allegations in divorce. The failure of the courts to punish such illegal actions directly drives the involvement of expensive GAL and minor’s counsel attorneys.

It is very common for only one of the parents to be involved in making false allegations and committing perjury in an attempt to bolster the parent’s position in a child custody case. The courts, by their consistent refusal and excuse-making about how they don’t have time to punish perjury and contempt of court, simply enable more of it. Worse, they often reward it and harm the children and aggrieved parent for months or years before it becomes clear the courts were duped by a malicious parent.

Why should the aggrieved parent have to pay for legal fees caused by a maliciously dishonest parent? If the state doesn’t want to pay for GAL and minor’s counsel fees, then put the liar and/or false accuser parent on trial for his or her illegal actions and then impose fines and wage garnishments to recover the costs.

As usual, some of the worst abusers of the law are judges and courts. In a nation like the United States in which the government and its employees refuse to obey the laws and refuse to enforce the laws, how can there be any justice?

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Further Reading:

Holding Family Law Judges Accountable

Lying is America’s Favorite Pastime

Courts illegally require parties to pay GAL fees

Justice John J. Irwin, Jr.’s Memo Orderig Illegal Charging of GAL Fees to Families

Motion for Restitution of Fees Paid for Guardian ad Litem If Your State Was Supposed to Pay but You Were Ordered to Pay Instead

GUARDING OUR CHILDREN: A Review of Massachusetts’ Guardian Ad Litem Program within the Probate and Family Court

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