Archive for the ‘Guardians Ad Litem’ Category

Should guardians give opinions?

A former mentee of mine, who is developing a thriving practice as a guardian ad litem in private custody cases, recently asked for my opinion on whether guardians should give opinions. S.C. Code § 63-3-830(A)(6) prohibits guardians from making recommendations on custody in their final written report and places limits on making custody recommendations at […]

Who does the guardian ad litem work for?

Frequently guardians ad litem take direction regarding their investigation from the parents or attorneys for the parents without exercising their own independent judgment.  Sometimes litigants or attorneys will inform the guardian the case is [some variation of] “close to settled” and ask the guardian to forgo their investigation to hold down fees.  Other times these […]

When a child’s mental health professional makes a guardian ad litem unnecessary

South Carolina Code §63-3-810(A)(1) allows the family court to appoint a guardian ad litem in a private custody case when “without a guardian ad litem, the court will likely not be fully informed about the facts of the case and there is a substantial dispute which necessitates a guardian ad litem.”  Thus attorneys routinely consent […]

Impeaching a guardian ad litem who’s gone (too) rogue

Twenty years experience shows that there’s some validity to Robert Rosen’s jaundiced view of guardians ad litem in private custody cases, best expressed by the title of one of his articles for South Carolina Lawyer: “Getting Rid of the GAL: How to Save Your Client from Those Expensive, Unnecessary Officious Intermeddlers.”  As Rosen’s article notes: […]

Caught in a circular firing squad

I have increasingly come to the conclusion that being a guardian ad litem in South Carolina for private custody cases is an impossible task if one is going to do it well.  The system, as currently constituted, weeds out good guardians while leaving the ineffectual and milquetoast in place.  The work has become so distasteful […]

Playing the jerk to encourage dispute resolution

Sometimes a guardian ad litem can assist resolution of a custody dispute by doing things that initially make the parents unhappy.  This won’t render the guardian popular but it will render the guardian effective. This approach helped me resolve a 2 ½ year custody dispute earlier this week.  Immediately upon my appointment I did a […]

An unanticipated use for the guardian ad litem’s periodic billing statements

As part of the private guardian ad litem statute, “[t]he guardian ad litem must submit an itemized billing statement of hours, expenses, costs, and fees to the parties and their attorneys pursuant to a schedule as directed by the court.” S.C. § 63-3-850(C).  In my experience, South Carolina family judges are requiring guardians to provide […]

Facebook and the Legal World: Can Law and Culture co-exist?

This weekend I asked for guest blogs.  Having recently seen David Fincher’s excellent new movie about the birth of facebook, The Social Network, Taylor Long’s request to do a guest blog on how Facebook “friends” are creating the appearance of conflict in the family court is timely. –GSF Guest blog from Taylor E. Long, associate […]