Tag Archives: court appointed psychologist

One day you WILL get to make it “PERSONAL”

A very learned and goodhearted parent once gave me some advice, a long time ago, at the start of my family-court nightmare, … “don’t take it personally”.  I, of course, found that impossible to do at the time, being a newbie and all.  This Veteran Mother, Parent of “the system” understandably, instinctively, knew how hard and long it takes to actually follow this advice, and kindly followed up with, WHEN the time came that I WAS able to do this, accept that the horrible treatment given to me, and to my children, by the court, and the court appointed professionals, and, just as painful and unbelievable, by the “apathetic bystanders”, whether they be the attorneys stymied by the outcome or those just plain out corrupted into “buying the outcome”, and that it was, in fact, NOT personal to them, just business, then I would be able to move on to the next level and try to begin fighting BACK.

I state with all sincerity and not just a little shame, that this piece of advice was the hardest thing for me to accept.  How can it NOT be personal … when it IS personal?  When it’s your life being destroyed, your children being ripped away with no voices, as if they are worthless orphans .. the outrage, horror and grief of this is at times unbearable.  The sad fact is it remains unbearable to many who capitulate, in total despair.  Why and how some of us survive these horrors and traumas is inexplicable to me, even now, years later.  I mourn those who did not make it, envy those who made it out and ran for their lives, and even resent (sometimes) those who made it out seemingly without a trace, having signed gag orders, etc. leaving no trail for those of us left behind to follow, like cracker crumbs to help guide us into finding OUR way out of the dark forest of this unspeakable hell.  I then console myself and forgive, knowing that there were MANY times during our nightmare had I been offered any reprieve to rewind, get out with my life and my children’s lives and childhoods intact I would certainly have jumped at the chance.

Parents – try, try, and try again, to NOT take it so personally simply in order to be able to see the great forest despite the trees in order to see the bigger picture.  And there is a bigger picture.  Try to console yourself that although it is very much personal to you, and to your precious children, if you can only find a way to survive You WILL, one day, get to speak up and out and make it personal.  In the between time, while you feel invisible, do everything you can just to survive it in order to live to fight another day.

My day has arrived. I don’t have my children back, and am dealing with the aftermath, and the secondary horrific crime of alienation, but, we are officially out of the system, by agreed order, not by any help from the courts and finally all court appointed unprofessional “professionals” officially discharged from our case, my ex  finally haven gotten a mere hint of a taste of their wrath, it was, after all, ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, and last fall he began to run out of money, actually losing custody himself just a few short months ago of the very children that these same “unprofessional” professionals granted him some three years prior.  It’s important to note he lost custody for the very reasons, grounds, that I had for many years tried but been denied from exposing to the courts, and their court appointed professionals.

I, the mother, ran out of funds after 6 years and $45,000 into the system while my ex had enough funds to continue on an extra three years.  It cannot be a coincidence that was this the three year period of time in which he was not only given custody but was assisted in his campaign to block access and visitation between me and my children.  These were the barriers my children and I faced these long years.

This January 2014, I was able to begin the long and scary road of coping with and accepting the pointless, unnecessary tragedies that wrongfully separated my children from me for over three years due to an abusive ex who simply used a corrupt system as a means to continue to abuse and denigrate me.  Our children are the real victims.

I begin my journey back to them … God only knows if or how we will reconcile with one another, and, if or how we will ever be able to accept and triumph over all that has happened to us while everyone around watched and did nothing to help us. It takes a great deal to overcome feeling that powerless and unimportant.  One thing is certain … we are not unscathed.

I pray every day that we will find a way to use our tragedy in some positive way to help others who are suffering similarly.

It has to begin somewhere.  This is my beginning, and I am now, finally, able to make it personal.  I am speaking up, and out, for my children and for all children and their protective parents.

 

 

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A MOTHER’S LAMENT, by B. R. Hardin, Attorney, Father, and Grandfather

(The following is a letter written by a mother who lost custody of her two children, reminiscing of the times they spent together, their life in Ocean Springs.  Because her ex-husband could afford the children a larger home, and her inability to recover from her loss when Katrina swept the gulf coast, she lost custody of her children, and was limited to visits on an every other weekend basis, but only to the tri-county area of Rankin, Madison and Hinds, and no over night visitation, I suppose for fear she would remove the children from the jurisdiction of the court.  She spent her life’s savings, over $45,000 dollars in attorney fees and the fees of Guardian Ad :Litems appointed by the court to investigate and report their findings to the court for the purpose of assisting the court in determining the best interest of the children and which parent would be more suitable for their care.  The first Guardian Ad Litem gave her a favorable report and recommended to the Court that the children be placed in her custody, but the second Guardian Ad Litem, for some reason, chose her ex-husband over her, and the Court favored this last report and her ex-husband one out, mainly because, in her opinions, he had a large, lovely home in Madison County and had the funds to raise the children, whereas, due to her circumstances, she did not.  That was seven years ago and she has been fighting to recover their custody since that time.  This is a lament of her efforts and the pain that she has suffered in that pursuit. It is addressed to a dear friend and to her older daughter by a previous marriage.   It begins with the ending of one of her visits with her young, twelve year old daughter.)

“Tonight, as I drove Miranda back to Madison, stroking her hair as her head lay over the armrest, stretching toward me as close as her seatbelt would allow like she always does on those drives ‘after the visit is over’, I vowed to begin writing, again.  It is one of a few passions of mine for which I have slowly turned away from.  My other favorites were put away much more abruptly.  My present demeanor may be disheveled, at times, but my memory is as sharp as a tack, like it has always been.  I recount my life events by dates, sometimes even down to the hour and minute, of ‘before’ and ‘after’ events.  Fishing, which always included some form of beach walking and nature exploration (which meant cardio exercise and fresh air as a bonus), ended the last time I went with my youngest daughter Miranda.  I haven’t allowed myself to recreate that particular memory down to the time and date, but I know it was with her, and I know that it ended as abruptly as the day we were separated by a court order that wrenched us apart in November 28th, 2011.  Listening to music, especially bayou-zydeco and country-western, old gospel hymns, and really old country ho-down music that I was tickled to hear my kids sing to as well.  I had amassed quite of collection of downloads, cd’s, and 2 great stereo’s that I wired together … my talent for setting up surround-sound and wiring “outdoor” speakers in nooks and crannies along the outside of our home was acknowledged and admired by even the most manly men of neighbors and teenaged boys with jack-up trucks and booming sound systems (my kids were quite proud of their mom’s sound-wiring skills), and every night, summer, spring, winter or fall, we enjoyed sitting outside by a fire …. for just a few minutes to a few hours, listening to, and singing along to “our” songs.  We always seemed to have extra’s, company, whether invited or not … the kids friends, their friends of friends, their parents, our neighbors…. somehow, our music and outside supper’s became an international “welcome” sign in our yard and drew wanderer’s in like magnets.  The kids loved it and I never minded.  It was a peaceful, simple time and I take some comfort knowing with all certainty that I made mental notes all of the time to “stop, and ENJOY them”.  I am grateful for that.  My love of music listening, as well as my infamous “singalongs” was severely restricted after my 12 year old son, Philip, went missing, or, for a better term, was “parentally abducted and never returned”, June 4, 2010.  I continued to enjoy some music with my young daughter, Miranda, after that date, but it was limited to music that would NOT remind me of Philip.  It was difficult, but I made it work for the next 17 months, and Miranda and I found our “own” music that we belted out every day.  The music ended completely, November 28, 2011, the date my daughter was taken from me as well.  I have not been able to bring myself to listen, or sing, since then.  The world became very dark, and very quiet, and remains that way.  Music brought me great joy.  Yard work, and gardening, of which I spent a great deal of time enjoying in all seasons and was quite talented in and for which I took great pride in, ended when I boxed up my belongings with the help of my oldest daughter Jessica, this past April 2012 when the decision was made to end the burdensome, tiring 5 months of travel that had been unavoidable since the day Miranda and I were separated and she was ordered to live with her father in Madison Mississippi.  I struggled valiantly to keep up our home in Ocean Springs, waiting day to day, week to week, turning into month to month, chasing the “15-day reversal of opinion” I’d been assured was certain to happen due to the many errors and fraudulent claims made in court that led to the removal of both of my minor children, Philip and Miranda, from my lifelong care and into the care of their father.  As the days and weeks turned into months, and the certain “presentation of the real facts” and the “testimony of real witnesses that would at the very least show his contempt of court and have the judge make good on his promise to reverse his opinion and return the children to me failed to come forward, and with these failures, my dreams for keeping our home, our very lives as we knew it, began to dissipate.  In addition to the near-weekly frantic drives I made those first few months to Jackson to be near my youngest child due to her very real, very serious medical, emotional, and/or legal emergencies surrounding our case, it slowly became clear to me that I could not continue to “stay home” and keep house while driving to and fro.175 miles each way.  Looking back, that is one of several things that astound me… that I even managed to hang on to the dream for as long as I did. Yes, the gardening was a great loss to my spirit and my body… but, the real joy in it ended the same time the music ended, November 2011.  I continued to manicure my lawn, and fret over it’s condition after my daughters disappearance from our home in November 2011, but my heart was no longer in it and I gave it up completely when I boxed up our life and closed the door for good in early April 2012.  Crocheting, which I recently picked back up due to the odd timing of a double urging and suggestion of two important people in my life who have never even met one another, yet who each brought up the topic within the same 24 hour period leading up to this past Christmas Eve.  The urging was by a friend who coaxed me into attending a small Christmas gathering at her home the night before Christmas Eve, and the suggestion was made by my oldest daughter, Jessica, who mused about my ability to “create” the newest craze of baby beanie hats that is so popular and in demand among all her co-workers and friends.  I have been a longtime believer of there-is-no-such-thing-as-coincidence so I paid heed to the sign before me and picked up my crochet needle, junk yarn from the back of my truck, and, with some help from Google, proceeded to crochet intently throughout this very difficult time of year… Christmas without my children.  Christmas without my closest friends.  Christmas away from home.  Homesick, Heartsick, and … Christmas without my children.  Thank you, Arlette, and Thank You, Jessica.  Your blessing and gift to me put an idea and a desire in my mind that thankfully I did not turn away from.  It helped me survive the most hearbreaking Christmas of my life.  Little Blessings…. count them one by one:)”

Me (A Mother, Still, In Mississippi)

 

 

 

Miranda’s Mom — excerpt: Meanwhile, Miranda continues to be invisible. If left up to the powers that be she would remain that way.

Miranda’s Mom

July 2013

Twelve year old Miranda Grace was born August 10, 2000, and was taken November 28, 2011.  Miranda was bright, and beautiful, and remarkably talented.  She was artistic and creative.  Miranda wrote with insight, depth and a clarity that would give Robert Frost pause.  In the 4th grade, Miranda wrote a school paper on Robert Frost.  She wrote in the preface that she picked Robert Frost “because her mom liked him” and, because she liked the title for “road less traveled”, oh, and, because his name reminded her of “Jack Frost and Christmas”.

Miranda loved her Ocean Springs hometown and the simple life she lived there with her mother.  She loved her school, her teachers, and hometown football games on Friday nights.  She loved running the neighborhood at dark.  She really loved the few occasions that she and her friend managed to sneak away and walk to the harbor close to her home in Gulf Park Estates.  Her Mom did not find out about those times till much later, too much later to get on to Miranda.  Too much later to even care that Miranda broke that rule.  Way too much later for her Mom to even care than she broke the rule.  In fact, by the time Miranda’s Mom did find out about those times that Miranda and her friend had sneaked away to walk to the harbor with their fishing poles and cast net, Miranda’s Mom was not angry at Miranda … she was proud.  She cried at the image in her mind and thanked God that Miranda had gotten to do something so innocent, something she loved so much, something her Mom knew she would have never let Miranda do on her own in regular life.  She was glad to know Miranda had a chance to sneak away to the harbor and fish and hangout with a friend on a hot summer afternoon.  Kids don’t get to do things like that much anymore, her Mother thinks to herself, smiling and crying at the memory, picturing Miranda, her long hair flying as she runs, laughing and acting silly, goofing off at the harbor.  Her mom can hear in her mind the sounds of kids laughter and shouts, the sound of the water lapping against the harbor posts and shoreline,  the humming of small engines from the boats out in the distance … all those sounds separate and mixed together to play a melody in her mind.  Smells fade, pictures fade, the little details of people you love fade in your mind and dim more and more over  time, but these daydream memories haven’t faded, yet, and they both play them separately in their heads each passing day as seasons change and as the days and weeks and months just come and go.

Miranda had many friends and loved to comb the beaches, fish, swim, and, more than anything, she loved those frequent backyard gatherings at her own home, the kind that invariably drew friends and neighbors of all ages in to their backyard like fireflies on a Mississippi early summer night.  On these nights, a fire was always started and music was always playing in the background, at a neighbor-friendly pitch of course.  Ensuring plentiful graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate bars and firewood was always the main focus of every single one of these evenings yet it never got tiring.  Each time was a new adventure.  Firewood was never much concern because of an abundance of lots throughout her large neighborhood, dotted throughout her large neighborhood, thanks to Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, gathering the wood was one of the best parts.  Miranda would never end the night until the fire did.  Sometimes, Miranda’s Mom would have to urge the fire out a little earlier than it wished just so she could coax Miranda inside.

Miranda Grace was taken, November 28, 2011, from her Mother, and her home, and friends, schoolmates, neighbors, so abruptly she never even got to say goodbye.  She never even finished wrapping the Christmas presents she worked so hard to purchase and had been keeping so secretive.  They lay half-hidden near the foot of her bed along with strings of ribbon and scatterings of bows, and wrapping paper, along with a pair of school scissors, tape, and all manner of artsy supplies that she kept stockpiled in her newly decorated Jungle-Themed room.  Miranda just simply left one morning and never came back.

Miranda never did get to unpacked her book bag from her 5th grade class Thanksgiving party..  Her book bag still holds evidence of that party and those happy 5th grade days that were cut so short.  There are still crumbs and sticky juice stains to see and it’s still cluttered with her artwork all crinkled and folded over.

Miranda was taken so fast she never even got a chance to put her tennis shoes on.

Miranda has been missing, in plain sight for nearly two years.  She is only 200 miles away from home but has not seen her room, yard, her friends, her neighbors, her beloved Ocean Springs beach and the Gulf of Mexico waters last she loved so much.   Miranda has been crying for home for 20 months.  She used to count the days but she quit at 465.  She wrote letters to teachers and counselors in the beginning.  She left notes in trees that she hoped would get back to the right people, people who could help her.  Some notes actually were found by people but they didn’t know what to do so they did nothing.  Miranda even called the police, once, but, would never do something that foolish again.  She suffered too much when the police left her where she was, without being able to help her more.  As soon as they found out Miranda had a court-appointed guardian ad litem their investigation was over.  Miranda couldn’t really blame them.  That’s what a guardian ad litem, and, also, a court appointed psychologist, was supposed to do for a kid.  No one tried to find out more about a scared girl that literally moved in overnight, who acted weird and was treated even weirder.  They all assumed the guardian ad litem was doing her job.  No one asked.

Anyway, none of this was anything like on tv when there were heroes who always helped kids and were the boss of everybody.  In real life the grownups acted confused but afraid to ask questions, or, they acted like the kid WAS the trouble.  Miranda learned this quick and vowed never to tell them anything again.  Even the teachers were different at this new place.  She was put in this school so quick … at her old school her teachers and the kids would at least ask a kid what was going on with them.   Here it was like they did not care.  That hurt almost as much as everything else.  Being nothing, to nobody.  Miranda could tell some of the teachers cared but just did not know what to do.  These hinted, at least, and they acted a little nicer to her than they did the other, “regular” kids.  They watched her cry, they watched her quit. They watched her go from scared and quiet to fighting all the time and quitting learning altogether.   

Miranda remembers the ones that were kind to her.  She’s never forgotten the ones who were not.  

Miranda knows it has to be the right person before she ever tries to ask for help anymore.  She wonders if God hears her prayers and she wonders why this is happening to her?

As Miranda’s Mom, I had a really hard time comprehending that I had been eliminated from her life.  It took months for me to try to understand and sort advice of those other parents.  I am still fighting to regain what I want more than anything on earth –  my place back in my daughter’s life.

With each passing day, week, month, it became more real and dreadful.  I began to accept things all I’d heard but rejected in horror.  Every single crazy, radical, outrageous thing those other parent had said has come true and my world has tilted on its axis.  I just wish everyone else’s would tilt a little bit too because I never dreamed these things could happen to someone like me, in our free and blessed Country.  That’s not sarcasm, I really mean it.  I love my country.  I love Mississippi.  I love country music and old gospel hymns and I’m a mutt, a mixed breed of at least 3 generations of Mississippians.  My father is a city boy from Richton, MS, my mother a cotton-farmer’s daughter from Lena, MS.  I grew up trolling through country cemeteries on Sunday afternoons with my parents, looking for our “ancestors”.  I loved that kind of thing.  I loved my upbringing and my heritage.  If I was naive and unaware these things could and do happen right here under our noses then I can give the rest of the Country the benefit of the doubt!  This is very real, and it really happens, and there are a whole lot more suffering, “invisible” kids, with suffering “helpless” parents out there than any of us would like to believe.  And they are hurting in plain sight.  It’s agony and torture and the grief is indescribable.  To have a child who suffers is horrible.  To watch them suffer and be totally unable to help them is worse than death.  I know because I am living it.

My 80 year old father also serves as my attorney now for the obvious reason – I am broke.  He and I both faced jail last week for gal fees and court sanctions.  We dodged a bullet that day, 07-15-13, but only for 30 days, recently extended to, 60 days and it’s soon pay or jail-time for me.  Yes, our county jails are often used for unpaid guardian ad litem fees.  

Meanwhile, Miranda continues to be invisible.  If left up to the powers that be she would remain that way.  

Miranda’s Mom did nothing wrong, nothing more than become impoverished over the 8 years since her divorce in Rankin County.  In that time, court costs, attorney fees, other guardian ad litem appointments, all cost her over $40,000 and is still adding up.  The judge even recently commented that if I “the mother” was too poor to afford the costs then I “the mother” have no business being in his courtroom”. 

Miranda’s Mom is not an addict, or a criminal, nor is she mentally ill, or unfit morally or ethically.  She has never been any of those things.  Miranda’s father has been all of those things.  Miranda’s father has a family with lots of money.

The modification hearing was cancelled because Miranda’s mom had not paid her portion of the guardian ad litem fees …. $6K plus some (and counting) used to be nothing to Miranda’s mother but it is now.  That’s about the same as asking a million.  It’s impossible.  Miranda’s mother didn’t even agree to the fees in the first place … the opposing attorney recommended this guardian ad litem, and, who told Miranda’s Mom and her attorney that his client would pay the gal expenses.  After all, it was only right as it was his client that was the reason for which this appointment was necessary.  His client had the parties back in court almost every year and sometimes twice a year since their divorce was granted some eight years prior.  Miranda’s mom reminded the gal of this fee arrangement very recently while she had a chance.  To her surprise, the guardian ad litem acknowledged this arrangement and then said to Miranda’s Mom, “too bad it wasn’t on record”.

This guardian ad litem has left a trail of horrified parents and damaged kids in our small-town county in central Mississippi, perhaps other counties as well.  I know these people may be well-known.  I am guessing that is why no one has been able to help Miranda, or me, her Mom, these past two years.  I have read much lately that has been publicized regarding government corruption and children’s rights, and I have seen that, sometimes, people speak up and help, for truth and justice.  I’m not asking anyone to take me at my word alone.  I am asking for an opportunity to present documentation to support the truth because I can.  I am asking for help putting a face to just one little girl’s name. A face to the name of one, young girl who has been kept silent far too long and maybe to one, very, battle-fatigued mom.

I am speaking up for Miranda, my now 12-year old daughter who was removed from my custody on November 28, 2011, for absolutely no reason at all.   My daughter lost the right to have a mother and I lost the right to mother the child I gave birth to. Miranda’s has fought so valiantly and for so long.  Her hope has dimmed but it still burns.  She continues to do everything she possibly can to help herself.  Doesn’t she deserve some chance to be heard?

Some part of Miranda still believes in heroes, in the good guys, and that help will soon come riding out of the hills to chase away the bad guys. Miranda’s only 12 years old. Another year or two and she may not believe in tales any longer.  That’s what I’m afraid of. 

I’m not sure but I’m wondering – are you the right person for Miranda to tell?

Sincerely Yours,

Miranda’s Mom

 

 

Wouldn’t Know Your Own Child If You Saw Him/Her On The Street? — Alienated, Separated, Too Long (In Memory of My Son)

Excerpt:  …. If writing of this helps avoid another loving mother {parent}, from marking a day in their own diary of life, as the day in which they do not, could not, and likely will continue not to be able to recognize their own child in a photo … then, somehow it may all be worth some of the pain that went into sharing this.

{In Memory of My Son, who was taken against custody, by his father, June 4, 2010, and never returned}

03-08-14:  Yesterday someone dear to me send me a sweet photo of what I thought to be a picture of this person’s son and his prom date. I took a moment to admire the photo, and sent a reply text remark of what a sweet, handsome couple these two young people were. After a brief pause, I received what I am sure was a difficult reply … that the handsome young man in the photo was my own son, Philip. Philip will be 16 years old next month. He was taken from me, from home, June 4, 2010, against custody, never to return. Philip and I have had no assistance during this time, by family court professionals, despite the fact that we had a guardian ad litem and psychologist appointed by the courts to see to my children’s “best interest”.


I have only recently begun to speak up, publicly, to get any attention to our cause, and our case. I have, in fact, spent most of my time, energy, and resources battling to avoid going to jail for unpaid fees for the “unprofessional” professionals in charge of seeing to the best interest of my children, instead of fighting for my children, which has been extremely dispiriting but necessary and very critical. I am sad, and ashamed, that I couldn’t do more for them when they needed me the most and it has been, IS, extremely dispiriting but necessary and critical … you have to remain alive, and out of prison, of course, before you can fight to help your children. 


All the most critical matters, addressing rights of parents, rights of children, reform, and oversight, laws, ethics, etc. all took backseat to issues of fees, and, sadly, as in other cases, children “age out” before any wrongs are ever identified, addressed, much less righted. That, and the fact that so many community leaders, and those “in charge” are uncomfortable getting involved. From all I have learned, these are the primary reasons for which these issues, this silent epidemic, has been allowed to continue for so very long.

Yesterday, the realization of accepting that I was not even able to recognize my own child in a photo washed over me in a slow and steady crush. I haven’t spent any time with, had any visitation with my son since May of 2012.

Writing has been my lifelong habit, mostly a joy, and has surely been some positive exercise for me during times when I could not speak of the unspeakable, the inexplicable. During these past months I have written, and, slowly, lately, I am learning to actually SPEAK up and out more than in the past. I confess that I recognize my writings can be too much, too overwhelming to those who read or hear …. I try always to remain mindful of that but do recognize that I often fail. The things of which I write and speak eek a pain and suffering on such levels that wears on the spirit of the reader, the listener and my words, our story, has not yet had victories, redemption, which we all need to have in order to be inspired.

I share these things with the hope that all we have experienced, all the time and effort I have put into research, all that we have sacrificed and lost may not be in vain. I am learning to try to accept that going back is impossible (very hard, for a mother, for any loving parent …  I will not wake up to be back in our happy home in Ocean Springs, with my busy, active, sweet, spiritual, loving 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter, with ever-revolving doors of friends, laughter, music, clutter, activities, dinner-time, and chatter … all the joyful noise, and choas, that makes up a busy, loving home. All I know to do at this point is recognize that we did indeed have this, it was no dream, and, nightmares have to end, one way or another.

I ask you to pray for my children, and for me. If writing of this helps avoid another loving mother, parent, from marking a day in their own diary of life, as the day in which they do not, could not, and likely will continue not to be able to recognize their own child in a photo … then, somehow it may all be worth some of the pain that went into sharing this.

{In Memory of My Son, Philip, who was taken against custody, by his father, June 4, 2010, and never returned}

March 8, 2014, by Bobbie R. Hardin

 

 

Is Justice truly blind – written by Mississippi Attorney (2012)

Is Justice truly blind.  Or, as someone told me recently, at least in their case, justice is blind only if you can afford it.  Take the O. J. Simpson case, they said.  Do you believe that he would have been acquitted if he had been an average citizen, living from paycheck to paycheck, rather than Simpson, who was apparently wealthy enough to hire several expensive attorneys, pay for pretrial depositions and pay for expert witnesses?

Food for thought.  After over fifty years of practice, I can see where he’s coming from.  There have been numerous cases during my career where the poor litigant was unable to hire an expensive attorney, much less fight a lengthy court battle.  The Mississippi State Bar is doing its best to get attorneys to perform pro bono service.  That is to render free service to those litigants who are unable to employ private counsel.  Like many of my fellow attorneys, I have done my share of these.  And in those situations where I have asked for a small down payment, I have found that the remainder of my fee remains unpaid.  In fact, I’ve often said that if I could collect my account receivables I could have retired long ago. I’m sure many of my colleagues can say the same.

I know of one litigant, in this case a woman, who lost custody of her children, who has spent over $45,000 in attorney fees and court appointed Guardian Ad Litem fees in her attempt to regain custody of her children, and still faces more fees if she intends to pursue her quest.  Incidentally, Guardian Ad Litems are usually appointed by a Judge as an arm of the court, charged to assist the Court in determining the best interest of the children.  Their responsibility is to investigate, file a report, and testify to the results of their investigation and, if requested by the Judge, to make a recommendation as to the best interest of the children.  These GAL’s are usually an attorney also, and their charges can be an added burden on the poor litigant.

This woman is obviously not a paycheck to paycheck type individual, but she has spent her life’s savings in her quest to correct what she feels has been an injustice by the judicial system in removing her children from her care and imposing restricted visitation rights.  At present she has been unable to meet the financial demands that the Court has placed upon her and faces contempt of court charges that could result in her incarceration.  But like most mothers throughout this land she is not giving up in her battle and will no doubt wind up in jail for her continued efforts.

She is only one of many women that I know that continue to fight for her rights.  I know of at least one of these who was actually incarcerated by the Court before she eventually regain custody of her children.

I’m sure there are hundreds out there, both men and women, who have faced the same dilemma.

Yes, Litigation is expensive.  Lawyers are expensive.  GAL’s are expensive.  If witnesses are called, especially psychologist or psychiatrist, they are also expensive.  Can the average citizen afford all of this?  Not likely, unless they have savings or good credit.

So what is the answer?  I don’t know.  I’m an attorney.  I have done my share of pro bono (free) work.  And there are other attorneys who likewise have done quite a bit pro bono work. But even if an attorney performs pro bono work the litigant still faces the task of the GAL fees, expert witness fees, etc.

Perhaps this is a matter that should be investigated by the legislature.  Especially in the case of GALs.  Unfortunately, there are no set rules or guidelines in our present laws addressing all of the duties and understandings of these court appointed attorneys.

The Supreme Court has attempted to clarify some of the issues, but there are still other matters that need to be addressed.

If there are those enlightened minds out there that has a workable solution to this problem please let me know.  Or if you have been in similar circumstances, tell me your story.