The current standard for child custody decisions, “in the child’s best interest,” is misleading. It presumes that a Guardian ad litem with only 20 hours of ill defined training will be objective in making recommendations to the court regarding a dissolving marriage and custody. It assumes that a stranger with no oversight or management from the appointing judge will not let his/ her personal biases come into play.
“In the Childs Best Interest” as a tool of a Guardian ad litem and court for determining the fate of minor children has been a miserable failure. The standard appears good on paper but in practice it is subjective and culture bound.
There are no studies done to show the effectiveness or importance of this standard. Whether the standard when applied actually has benefited the child in the short or long term. No one knows yet we entrust a complete stranger a Guardian ad litem to do what is best for our children by using this standard.
It is wrong. And … the whole notion of “in the child’s best interest” as a court standard is deeply flawed conceptually, factually and legally. It provides an irrefutable, unarguable weapon for any miscreant Guardian ad litem (or court) who chooses to abuse it – intentionally or not. It is the ultimate authoritarian refuge that can be used to preclude any further exploration or discussion of issues. We are aware of reports of numerous abuses of “in the child’s best interest”. For instance there is the refusal to disclose Guardian ad litem case records. The refusal to provide reasons behind complex, seemingly irrational Guardian ad litem decisions. The refusal to respond to client challenges about regulatory violations. Or the refusal to identify charges on a Guardian ad litems invoice of charges for service. When challenged for enlightenment, the reply: “Not in the child’s best interest!” Sometimes this refusal to share data is reinforced with, “It might be dangerous.”
End of discussion.
Over and out!
This kind of authoritarian claim that a Guardian ad litem, alone, using whatever resources, can determine what is “in the child’s best interest”, is misleading. The child’s wishes may be denied, and parental rights may be ignored. Further there is no way of correcting the actions of a delinquent Guardian ad litem making such highly subjective decisions, other than a very expensive, time consuming, slow moving appeal to a higher court.
In the hands of a delinquent Guardian ad litem, the idea of “in the child’s best interest” can be a devastating weapon that brooks no defense.
MeGAL is working to bring Family Court and Guardian ad litem reform to Maine. It started because a Guardian ad litem made the claim that driving a child to school was not in the child’s best interest (amongst other wildly unsubstantiated claims). For more information about what we are doing please find us on Facebook or email us at MeGALalert@gmail.com.