What is a Guardian ad Litem?

Question Number One: What is a GAL?

Now that we see how prevalent the misconduct is and how extreme and lasting the damages are, we are developing the dialogue about what to do next.

You have to understand what a Guardian is and what they are supposed to be doing before you can properly review and judge their work, so let’s start here.

The news station reporting on the GAL misconduct and the bad case outcomes in Augusta, Georgia, asked us to explain more about the GAL program in Georgia.

They asked us, “What is a guardian ad litem, and is what we are seeing in Augusta the norm?”

We are opening the discussion for professionals and parents to work together to help improve this situation. The Augusta Chronicle ran a great summary of the GAL program, so please read that and let’s revisit how to improve this system so that we can avoid more of the same, and improve outcomes for children and families.

Please also connect with us via LinkedIn, and professionals may join the Counsel for Change group to contribute privately as we work on answering and correcting what is is wrong.  

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

Help Break the Silence about GAL misconduct that has been leading to harm to children and good parents.

Green Light on Needs of Children

Who is STOPPING good parents from caring for their children?  …stopping them from WORKING so they can provide for children?

Spotlight on Augusta, Georgia and on Columbia County for what the local Superior Court and law enforcement agencies know is being done improperly to a good father.   He is a good, hard-working man who loves and misses his child, and he deserves our support and attention from our leadership and news media.

A Candlelight Vigil is being held to light up the dark and drafty space surrounding the detention center where this man is being mistreated.   See this event page to RSVP and watch for updates.

Now that this case has been investigated by others outside the local system in Augusta, we are giving the “Green Light” for people to raise awareness about the dangers to every parent in this area who might pass through this court system.  

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

The situation described in this video is disturbing, but it is also disturbing to us that a good father…also seeking to protect his daughter…is being held in jail on false allegations.  There are some very interesting similarities on these two cases.  Both involve DFCS, law enforcement and certain child custody “experts” and the numbers and rulings just do not add up.  Both are leading to damages to these children.  Damages that can be avoided and that should be corrected.

We are asking law enforcement and our state and local leaders to bring transparency into this father’s case and into Augusta to see why so many good parents are unable to care for their own children, why they are losing their property and jobs, and their health.  

The evidence of these cases dictates that these are the wrong outcomes.  What’s next? #GreenLightAugusta

What about the laws?  Are they being followed?  Keep asking, and show up for these families.  Follow #NeedforGreen to learn more about what is holding back good parents, leaving families in worse shape than before.  

This story from Texas is now going viral, and it is closely related to what is happening in Augusta, and all over Georgia:

 

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Please study local cases and ask questions, especially of Judge Michael Annis about judicial procedure and the use of evidence to exonerate innocent parties.  It appears the evidence was ignored here and a good father jailed because he stood up for his rights to parent and protect his daughter.  

He is fighting for his right to work and to provide for her — and for the chance to recover from what was done wrongfully to him in his divorce and custody case.

This father who is being held wrongfully, denied clean clothing for a week, being denied phone calls…is now writing letters to his daughter so that she knows she is not being abandoned by him.  Help him ensure these letters get to his daughter so that she doesn’t believe that he has abandoned her?  This is critical for her…not just for him.  (Please understand that THREE fathers in metro Atlanta have taken their lives after this type of custody case and mistreatment by court professionals.  We do not need another tragedy, and another Fatherless Daughter, for the State of Georgia to get the point: it is time to intervene!)  

Video testimony is helpful in getting what this is like, the reality for people in this situation, so please take a few minutes to watch this, and see that what happens to this woman in court is the SAME as what happened to this man who is now in jail in Augusta – away from his child who needs his protection and support.

This father wants to get back to work, so that he can pay child support, plus manage the outrageous fees put on him by these court professionals.   Let him out.  Let him work.  Let him defend himself. Give this child her father back.

Cobb County: Need for Green to Protect Children

Can you imagine finding out that you and your children were secretly filmed because some sick person decided to use your family for entertainment?

This is what is happening to parents and children in Cobb County and in Florida:

This story is terrible enough…but can you also imagine that the COURT and Guardian Ad Litem in Cobb County would disregard this evidence in deciding whether or not to protect children?

This is why we have Court Watch invitations on these cases.  Just  recently the Court was going to consider giving un-supervised visitation to this father out on bond in Georgia, and wanted in FL on 4 counts.

Thankfully CBS and the FL news media covered this story.    

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse.  WHY?

Cobb County is waking up to the fact that children are being left unprotected even in light of clear evidence and substantiated reports of abuse. WHY?

 

The same GAL in another Cobb County case is revealing his alignment with the alleged molester, positioning himself to make more money off this case by helping to cover up crimes against children.  This is in spite of DFCS substantiating the abuse and putting a safety plan in place for the children.  This is in spite of the fact that police are currently investigating this case.  

Based on this GALs recommendation, the court may remove the protective order now keeping the children safe.  Can you guess who the GAL used to excuse the fact that he had not done his own due diligence on this child abuse case?  Dr. Howard Drutman and his often quoted “custody evaluation” that ignores all evidence of abuse.  This is the “doctor” who has no expertise in child sexual abuse and who conducted no thorough review of the facts on the case related to the abuse.  Sound familiar?

Why would these professionals do this?

Watch and learn.  Let us know how you can help, or if you have more data / cases related to this story.

This story and what the highly paid court professionals are doing here MUST count!
Why do we need your help?

If THIS evidence can be ignored in the above story, then you can see how easily perpetrators can get away with silencing their victims.  

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure - - by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

Help Break the Silence that certain court professionals are working to ensure – – by suppressing evidence needed to Protect Children.

 

 

Please support My Advocate Center and the Georgia Center for Children’s Advocacy by learning about the intervention needed.  

“It is believed that less than 10% of those victimized by child sexual abuse will ever tell anyone of their abuse. The result will be issues that last a lifetime.
It is imperative that we break the silence of abuse, whether it is sexual or physical, and that children are protected. If you believe that a child is being abused, or if you are a child that is being abused, please contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible. We believe that getting this secret out into the open is the first step towards healing.”

 

Court Humor

Tired of Resolutions? Try Laziness.

The actual headline of an Atlanta blog post.

True story.  Yes, our staff writer poked fun by sharing this with family court professionals.

It was aimed at social media fans in Atlanta, but with all the seriousness of our research and reporting we felt it was time to shake things up.

This may be our new theme.  Except when talking about the Boogy Man.  No “lazy” in those #shenanigans.  His clients get their {Big} money’s worth!

Divorce Corp. Inspired.

New Series: What Lawyers Say

Day One:  Lawyer Quote #1

Social Media Rocks.  Why?  Good lawyers are getting the word out.  We are listening.

It is NOT all attorneys and judges involved in wreaking havoc on unsuspecting citizens.

This is anonymous for now, until we have permission to use his name:

“Reforms are definitely needed in [my state]. To establish reforms that benefit the parties will require the participation of family law lawyers who support certain changes, too many which can be listed here.  (MAC: we agree) That said, it’s no secret that the family law system is a business. Additionally, it should be generally understood that model does not serve clients well, unless a client gets lucky and hires a highly ethical and competent family law lawyer who is more interested in resolving the divorce as amicably and efficiently as possible, rather than generating the most billable hours. I’ve seen far too many examples of the latter.

I was told by prior employers that I solved cases too quickly, and that by doing so, I cost that employ tens of thousand of dollars that could have been generated from the case (had I not resolved the parties issues so soon). That’s the primary reason I decided to work for myself, so my hands would not be tied, in terms of helping people resolve their divorce without costing so much, and without the unnecessary generation of conflict.

To put out a fire, one should apply water, not gasoline. Many family law lawyers apply gas to increase the fire. The brighter and longer the fire burns, the more money they make. Of course, one who has a conscience (such as myself) finds this approach beyond deplorable.

Again, it’s no secret (at least within the industry) that most family law lawyers don’t bend over backwards to resolve conflict as quickly as possible, whether their reason is to generate more billable hours, or they lack the skill (professional/legal or interpersonal) to help parties resolve conflict in a competent manner.  (MAC note: why should this secret be kept from the public?)

Most lawyers are adept at conflict. Also, many get into family law for the wrong reason (because there’s plenty of work and it seems like an easy area of law, and it’s also easy to start a solo practice). Hence, parties are at high risk that once they initiate their divorce process and hire a lawyer, that their problems will escalate.”

* This is just one sample: lawyers all over our country are stepping forward to say they are OVER being labeled along with those who commit fraud, breach fiduciary duty, commit legal malpractice…or who are just plain lazy or greedy, or all of the above.

Keep it coming!

#Courage #ThrowawayClient

problem_solved

What many lawyers – not all – want you to do

Fulton County: Pay to Play (Part Two)

 

Why raise the issue of “Pay to Play” on these child custody cases?

It’s a simple matter of the public wanting to know why the damages to good parents and to so many children are what they are during and following a legal conflict:

Some of the questions the public is asking include, “How many high-paid attorneys and custody experts does it take to influence a judge to ignore evidence and the wishes of a child?”  This is a fair question raised in Fulton, Cobb, Forsyth and Dekalb counties in similar cases involving child abuse.  It is fair to ask also, “Should this influence be allowed to stay hidden?”

It is a bigger question because many of these cases had possible outcomes that were faster, less traumatizing and expensive for the parents and children.

But the damages are not just happening to children, or around cases involving abuse.

Evidence of addiction and other misconduct / foul play is being ignored where it will allow a healthy and innocent parent to protect themselves. This is while certain professionals on those cases earn higher fees from that keeping that parent caught in the process.  It just takes lying to the innocent parent in saying “Oh, that evidence doesn’t count, or that misconduct won’t matter to the Court,” then creating more uncertainty by faulting the innocent parent instead of using available evidence, and the perfect storm is ripe for increased professional gain.

Parents are being told that the “trends” in family law mean that leaving out evidence is appropriate, and that means the financial losses & physical / emotional harm to good parents and children…is all fine, too. So we invite the press to ask, are these “trends” in line with our laws?  We know for sure they are not in line with common sense or with what our children need to be healthy and supported.

So this question on this Fulton case becomes fair game:

Does it really make sense that a GAL on a case like this one is billing over $133,000.00?    Wouldn’t the evidence on its face suffice to provide the right answers to the court?  How is this “trend” good for our children or our state?

Because of this coverage on these unusually high custody expert bills, many more cases have surfaced revealing that “things just don’t make sense” around amounts billed and by whom, and when compared to the evidence and facts of the case – and when seeing the damaging outcomes for children.

See the story posted below for the reason reporter Jeff Chirico did a follow up story on billing records and money.  Note that we have not seen one case with an innocent parent where these same professionals worked this hard to use their influence over a judge.  If they have such a case, our analysts would welcome the chance to compare billing records and the advocacy involved.

There is nothing wrong with making  a great living, or with paying experts when you need and can afford them.

The issue we are raising is that “neutral”  or “child-focused” professionals and their billing practices are doing harm in ignoring evidence that would end litigation and provide protections.

The results are reflecting that more innocent parents are being damaged in spite of evidence that supports them, while the actual perpetrators are able to get evidence ignored.  Either way the children are harmed.

Based on what we’ve seen in this case and in others, if you are guilty of something, then you have a clear path to follow in how to avoid losing in court.  Our point here is that the evidence of this case is impossible to argue with; and certain professionals are working hard to keep out the evidence, even those whose job it is to be “neutral” and to protect the child. (This statement is true and is based on the analysis of dozens of local cases, so we are not amending this statement until we see evidence to the contrary – which we hope will be the case in this next trial.)

If you are a good, innocent parent working to protect a child and to protect your rights, then hiring is a very different matter.  Having significant financial resources and connections as this father does, does not guarantee that the professionals you hire will advocate as needed on your case.  Money does not buy loyalty, but apparently it can buy a cover-up.  The cover-up can work in favor of a parent who is guilty of abuse, but in a number of cases brought to us the cover-up is done to protect a parent and professionals who have lied to police in bringing false allegations.

This means that in other cases, the professionals hired by affluent fathers are allowing their innocent clients to be set up to fail around false allegations.  So, if you are a father who has been falsely accused and lost big, do not make the mistake of thinking that this case may be like yours.  It simply doesn’t work that way – not based on a large number of case evaluations done over a period of several years.

So here is a tough question that is asked of us repeatedly:

Why is it that fathers who have been arrested in different jurisdictions, with reports of abuse substantiated, can use these professionals to hold a child hostage and harm an innocent, nurturing mother?  Then on the flip side, why are fathers who have done nothing wrong and have supported the mother and children (even in the face of adultery and addiction), being condemned and destroyed?

This is happening because it is profitable, and because there is no transparency on these cases.  The next question obviously is “where is the accountability” – does it exist?  The recording and reporting of these hearings is critical for both the public safety – especially that of children who barely have a voice to be able to ask for help – and also for the sake of the public trust in our legal system and judiciary.

If you are a professional who wants to see these cases adjudicated according to evidence and laws, and to ensure the safety of children and the rights of good parents, please look into this case and attend the hearing if possible.

If you are a parent who is uncertain about where to turn to safely navigate situations involving real or false allegations, contact us first.

* This post and this story are posted here together so that following the outcome of this case is easier.  CBS Atlanta did a thorough job investigating and reporting, and was threatened by Dr. Howard Drutman.

 

This is an excerpt from CBS Atlanta’s coverage on this story:

FULTON COUNTY, GA (CBS ATLANTA) –

CBS Atlanta News has learned attorney James Holmes is revising his $133,000 bill in a custody case, in which he served as a guardian ad litem, after reporter Jeff Chirico questioned his fees and his recommendation.

As a guardian ad litem, Holmes is responsible for advocating for the best interest of a 10-year-old girl whose identity CBS Atlanta News is withholding.

Last month, Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger ordered the girl live with her father despite allegations he had sexually abused her. Holmes and a court-appointed custody evaluator, Howard Drutman, recommended that the girl’s father receive primary custody of his daughter.

CBS Atlanta News obtained an e-mail Holmes sent to the parties, indicating his fees for working on the case from Spring 2012 through April 22, 2013 totaled $133,000.89.

Naming Names – Help for Parents Caught in Conflict

You’ve now seen through press coverage of specific stories that certain judges are being influenced – in an inappropriate way – by certain attorneys and custody experts.  Many of you are asking, “So who are the others doing this?”

Obviously, as your comments reflect, there are more than a few people engaged in misconduct and in covering it up, or these actions would not be so blatant, and so profitable.

EXTRA NAUGHTY LIST 2013

This “hidden influence” is leading not only to financial and emotional damage to good parents, but also leading to physical and emotional damages to children.

The impact on our community is tremendous – and virtually no one is immune to what is going on.

But we should all be putting our foot down collectively over the damages to our childrenWe are seeing children develop severe, long term medical/emotional problems that would not be occurring otherwise.

This trauma is leading to drug problems, truancy, jail time and even suicide.

That alone is worth naming names publicly of those contributing to or benefitting from the court-related misconduct, and working toward transparency and accountability.  (Yes, we are inviting discussion with these professionals, asking for help in restoring health, peace & support for these families and children.  It is the ONLY right option, and it’s not too late to shift gears and help rather than harm.)

Please feel free to submit via PRIVATE email here on this website or via PRIVATE message on Facebook the names of professionals who have conducted themselves in similar fashion. 

The best means of sharing information is to Contact Us HERE.

We don’t need a lot of detail for now, just enough to know that a bad/harmful outcome was obtained because professionals ignored or suppressed evidence that, if the laws and ethics rules were being followed, would have been used to provide protections and support.  Should you want to discuss your case or situation further, let us know and we will provide you with our Intake Form.

Any and all legal advice must come from an attorney licensed in the State of Georgia, so please note that submitting information – while we treat with all possible confidentiality and view submissions as sensitive – is not considered “attorney-client privileged.”

We are not attorneys but do have legal, financial & psychological advisors on stand-by and will help inform you so that you know you are in the right hands going forward.  (If you have peace of mind about those supporting you, you’ll make better decisions..meaning your children will be better cared for.)

Information can be shared with our Resource Team and advisors by telephone or in person if digital/email communications are not appropriate for your situation.  You can also submit evidence directly to contacts with press or law enforcement, and we can arrange to help you with that if appropriate;  just get the information where it can be followed through on.

At a minimum, and for starters, if you have a case where you can show what appears to be professional misconduct, you should immediately call the State Bar and request a grievance form.  We’ve been told, “If people are being harmed, then WHY are they not filing grievances with us?”

So, please do ask for those forms, fill them out, send them in on a timely basis.  (If you need assistance, we have good malpractice attorneys available to consult with you on this process.  Note that this is hourly fee-based work, but worth it if you can afford to pay it.)

The more information that comes to light about misconduct and cases being mishandled, the better our community can be served.

*Our job is NOT to act as law enforcement or reporters, but our mission includes informing and empowering those entities responsible for reporting and protecting.

Professionals: if you are committed to upholding laws, ethics rules, fiduciary duty and the needs of your clients – and especially their children’s needs – please let us know if you would like to help with these cases coming in.

One part of our mission is to help the State Bar fully realize the nature of the misconduct and the extent of the damages, and to influence this conduct to cease.

Give parents and children a chance to recover, so that they can thrive as they would be doing but for the interference, misconduct and hidden influence as described in the press coverage.

Going forward, we are working hard to help families transition through and out of conflict faster, to support children in receiving the best that both parents have to offer, and to allow the family’s resources to be preserved for the benefit of children and parents.

Children deserve to be healthy and supported, in the care of loving and available parents, and they deserve to see their parents thriving in this role.  Anything else is not natural, and does interfere with the child’s development and future.

Sometimes it’s OK to be seen as controversial, or even “radical” as certain guilty parties like to say… But here goes: Shame on you if you disagree with this, or if you stand in the way.

If you are a parent who has hired and used professionals engaged in these tactics… aimed at harming the other parent, please know that there is a way to correct your situation without making things worse.

We are especially asking you to reconsider this situation.  You’ve probably already done enough harm to the other parent to feel that sick sense of satisfaction…not that it’s ever enough when your temper is raging or when you are feeling wounded.

Just know this: There is a way to meet in the middle, better serve your children, and allow your family to move forward with less conflict, expense and stress.  For sure, having a conversation about options will not do you any harm. (We won’t tell if YOU won’t!)

Thank you for your trust and your support.

Rally on Fulton County Courthouse Steps

When: July 8th, Monday after the holiday weekend.  During the lunch hour, 11am to 1pm.

Where: Fulton County Courthouse

What: #RALLY4Kids

Who: Concerned parents & those who support families and children, including church members, neighbors and co-workers.

Why are hundreds of people emailing and calling for help? 

Because it seems that certain judges are not allowing good parents to protect and care for their children.

Is it just because of judicial bias against a certain gender or against the color of a parent’s skin?  Or is there some other influence we cannot see or anticipate?

This message is not just coming from hundreds of people in a small area of Atlanta.  There are tens of thousands nationally saying the same thing.  But next week we are focusing on two judges, in one courthouse.  #FultonCounty #Georgia

The messages you can help us share here on Facebook, on Twitter, and over the phone or in email:

Serve the #NeedsofChildren 

#StopChildAbuse

#ImproveFamilyLaw by bringing attention to #FultonFamilyCourt and the actions of certain judges on certain cases.

Help us ask, “Why are you suppressing evidence of child abuse?”

“Why are you locking out good parents when their children need them most??”

“Why would you take a child from a great parent, take away that parent’s rights and steal their money, just to reward someone who is paying to suppress evidence of wrongdoing?”

“Why would you put a child into the hands of someone believed by several professionals, including law enforcement, to be abusing a child?”  And, “Is it OK to allow expert witnesses to be intimidated and prevented from supporting a child they believe to be suffering from abuse?”

Is this how the legal process and our laws are supposed to work?

What are we missing here?  We would really like to know what “best interests of the child” means in YOUR reality, because things aren’t adding up – not in a way that is HEALTHY for our children.

We would appreciate as concerned citizens, tax-payers, parents and neighbors being able to see if there is something we just don’t know about why our Courts are enabling misconduct and rewarding foul play.  Is there a good/legal reason for allowing children to get hurt, and to repeatedly be hurt?  If we are wrong on drawing conclusions in all of our CASE STUDIES across all of these cases, across all of these court rooms, then we would love for you to show us why these patterns of conduct make sense to you.

Please, discuss this with us and help us understand?  We know it is not because we don’t have access to talented, bright, law-abiding attorneys and psychologists, or access to good judges.  Correct?

Our community is filled not only with parents, friends, family, church members and neighbors; it is filled with educators, doctors/nurses/therapists, law enforcement officers and business people.  They all want answers and are tired of hearing the same terrible stories.

Many from all over our society are asking us to explain, because it just DOES NOT MAKE SENSE why you would NOT FOLLOW LAWS that are designed to PROTECT CHILDREN AND PARENTS.

Does this make sense to anyone you know??  Follow this event and talk to us:  On Facebook & On Twitter

Why is My Advocate Center promoting this event and these messages?

Simply because we need to, as so many children are being hurt.

Contact Us to learn more, join the rally or just see how you can help.

What’s next?  Parents, professionals and even policy makers are asking for intervention.  They are asking what THEY can do to stop the misconduct leading to injury of children.  So next we will be revealing case studies and answering questions with our panel of experts and officials in a larger Town Hall setting.  Date/Location TBD.

For now, please join these caring families, neighbors and church friends next Monday, July 8th at lunch time.   

Use your time and your voice to ask these Fulton County Judges and attorneys to change what they are doing to our children and their parents.