2016 was the first year that the new rules for Guardians ad litem were in use for consumers. It is also the first full year that these new rules and complaint process was in effect. For those who don’t remember the old rules for Guardians ad litem (GAL) consisted of 14 pages of instruction and simply put that if you as a consumer felt a GAL did not follow the rules could file a complaint with the head Judge. The Judge would determine the merit of the complaint based on both sides telling their story and issue a verdict. The model is similar to the complaint process that just about every business in America uses.
Up to 2014/ 2015 there were no successful consumer complaint brought against GALs that resulted in any form of discipline.
The Judicial Branch determined that this old antiquated process needed improvement. In September 2015 the Judicial Branch unveiled their new and improved rules and complaint process. We as consumers now had 78 pages of legalistic rules to go through as part of this improvement. The portion that covered the complaint process alone covered 30 pages. In addition the process for filing a complaint became a multi layered process that is similar to the complaint process used by the Maine Bar.
So what happened last year?
24 Complaints were filed against Guardians ad litem using this new and improved process which resulted in the dismissal of 24 complaints. No GAL was disciplined in any way, shape of form. But it gets even better. As part of the improved complaint process if you as a consumer feel that the GAL Review Board got it wrong – you may seek review by a public member of the GAL Board. While we do not have a number for how many reviews were sought – we can tell you that none were successful.
100% of the complaints filed resulted in 100% being dismissed.
That is an amazing figure when one looks at how the Family Court system is set up – to encourage conflict. It is even more amazing when one experiences the personal bias of a GAL in a system which provides no actual oversight and management of these court vendors. In Maine we are truly blessed with this perfect system.
MeGAL provides support and education to parents, consumers and representatives about the issues which plague our Family Courts. If you would like more information we encourage you to contact us at MeGALalert@gmail.com or find us on Facebook.
For details on what members of the GAL Review Board have done since inception to help better GAL rules and complaint process we present minutes of their meetings:
2015-10-21 Organizational Meeting of the GAL Review Board
2016-01-19 GAL Review Board Meeting
2016-04-25 GAL Review Board Meeting
2016-09-16 GAL Review Board Meeting