What Can Be Done When Social Workers or a Guardian ad Litem Are “Not Doing Their Jobs”?

A distraught grandmother recently asked on Avvo where to turn when allegations of abuse are not being considered in a custody case:

My grandchildren are going through a custody case with the Division of Child, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and a Guardian ad Litem involved. Neither are doing their job. I am fearful of where my grandchildren are. No one wants to listen to crucial facts that are important to the well-being of my grandchildren. I have tried to contact DCYF myself and have spoken to the GAL. The GAL feels that the father’s attempted suicides, and physical and emotional abuse, as well as his drug abuse and past criminal record, have no bearings on the case. How can you erase seven years in three months? The new wife took food out of the trash and shoved it in my three-year-old’s mouth and forced it down her throat. Shoes have been thrown at the back of my four-year-old’s head. The four-year-old has diabetes and [the condition is worsening due to dietary issues]…

This woman does have a number of options.

She can ask the court to intervene in the case or attempt to take custody. She can also document her concerns in writing with the GAL and/or DCYF so they take those concerns seriously.

If she believes the GAL is not acting appropriately, by abusing their discretion, she can ask the New Hampshire GAL Board to intervene. If she believes the DCYS is not acting appropriately, she can register a complaint with the Ombudsman.

The grandmother herself would not have standing with the court (unless she filed a custody motion), but her daughter can attempt to ask the court to remove the GAL for cause. Those are rarely granted, however, unless there are significant abuses of discretion, which I’m not sure is the case here.