I had a long, drawn out custody case fighting for my daughter.
Let me tell you one story about it.
I asked the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for my child. I wanted her to be protected. A guardian ad litem is a court appointed lawyer that looks after the best interests of the child. They advise the courts on whether a home is safe, influence decisions on where the child should live and what contact they should have with their parents. You are responsible for paying them for their duties.
The judge appointed a GAL for my daughter. I felt a great relief. Someone was going to watch out for her. But immediately something was off about him. His demeanor seemed detached and impersonal, and he carried an attitude of nonchalance about a serious matter regarding my abusive X. He appeased my concerns for my child with dull words like ok, fine, and good.
He treated me like an annoyance.
Then I noticed that in the court room, the guardian ad litem sat next to my X on the bench. He could have sat anywhere, but he chose to sit next to him. They seemed very buddy-buddy. My X gifted him coffee, and they shared laughs like they had a genuine friendship . . . at a custody hearing involving domestic violence.
Then one day the guardian ad litem didn’t show up for one of my court dates. He had been arrested and taken to jail. He was charged with domestic assault against his wife and children. He later got out on bail. This was the person who the judge had appointed to look after my daughter in a domestic violence case. He was supposed to protect her from harm, and listen to her, and decide on her best interests.
We went back to court, and my lawyer asked the judge to remove the guardian ad litem, and to reappoint a new one for my daughter. This is what the judge decided: that the charges against the GAL had no impact on my case. No impact.
I was stunned.
There was nothing I could do. I paid for one abusive man to help and aid another abusive man. They continued to sit together in the court room, and scheme together throughout my years-long case. Not to help my daughter, mind you, but to help my X. At my expense.
At my child’s expense.
To this day, I still haven’t gotten over the shock of how this happened. I’m still stunned when I think about it. Actually, I’m still angry.
To all the mom’s out there facing incredible injustices in the family court room, I send you courage and strength, love and admiration, hope and healing. Especially healing. I believe you.
May we find our way through the anger to peace.