Monthly Archives: August 2013

When Is the Guardian ad Litem Required to Be Present?

A good question on Avvo from a mother going through the custody process:

Does the appointed Guardian ad Litem need to be present at the meeting with family relations at which they will be sharing their recommendations? I don’t have the money to pay the GAL and my current attorney. Can the meeting take place with the father of my children and me? Why does the GAL need to be present if he is only reading the report and we are supposed to reserve our comments for court?

Simply put, if it could affect the children, the GAL has a right to be involved. What the mother could do in this situation is see if the GAL is willing not to show up. If she tells the GAL they are close to an agreement, especially both parents, then the GAL might be willing to skip the meeting and just read the report later. If there is any two-way discussion involved at this meeting, however, then the mother is likely out of luck.

What Can You Do When the Other Parent Stops Communicating About Your Child?

A father asks on Avvo about resolving a communications issue with his ex-wife:

My ex-wife of six years has not been communicating with me about our son, who is 14. I have tried every avenue to reach her, with no response. My son, with whom I’ve had a great relationship, is suddenly acting differently and won’t talk to me. I moved to Florida last year to be closer to my gravely ill mother, and it is important for [me to receive] those updates. My ex-wife leaves my son home with his grandmother, who lives there and is now diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. There seems to me to be a breach of a parenting plan. (She has physical custody, but we have shared legal custody.) I have no news on my son’s health, school, or emotional well-being. What can I do?

Simple answer to a tough situation for the father in the above scenario: He needs to retain an attorney and exercise his legal right to access and order that he be communicated with. It sounds like he has no other choice.

When Is Showering With a Child Defined as Abuse?

From a concerned grandmother who took to Avvo to find out the definition of abuse:

What is the best way to compel the father of a four-year-old girl not to shower with her? Does this constitute abuse? My granddaughter’s father does not think he did anything wrong.

A grown man showering with a four-year-old girl is definitely crossing the “icky” line. It was enough for DCF in Connecticut to make a case in juvenile court with a past client of mine.

A restraining order would work, along with a no-contact order. Most importantly, the father should not be given the child until he gets some help to understand why such a situation is a problem.