GAL’s…Huh…What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Borrowing our title from the Edwin Starr/Temptations song denouncing war; there is a real problem for Maine Guardian Ad Litem’s: how to justify their existence? What do they add to a divorce (besides expense and harassment)? What do they know about parenting and a child’s best interest? Is there an area of human relations expertise, and, if so, what is it?

Because their hypothetical expertise is highly debatable and at best very slim, they have to discover problems in parenting- problems that make their search appear valuable, but not so bad as to warrant a referral to Children’s Protective Services and an escape of the money train.

They have gradually expanded their originally limited role to be a kind of Good Housekeeping certifier of parenting. They fundamentally offer an opinion  grade of  parents, like a school teacher. This one gets 100%, this one gets 35%; this one gets zero! Frequently, child’s evaluation by experts is dismissed, and there is a search for an evaluator whose opinions agree with those of the GAL.  Or the blanks in actual  expert reports get filled in by the GAL with “junk science”.

They have to find a problem to justify their existence.They have to rely on the power of the courts to back them and on their protection from liability by immunity to survive.

It is about an expensive investigation in search of a problem!  It embodies the common approach (an accusation equals a fact) and common philosophical  issues of other investigations in which the investigator’s job security and professional existence depends on finding problems: the inquisition, the reign of terror, the Salem witch hunts and the search for Communists in public life of the 1950’s!

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