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Author Topic: GAL's Report to the Court.  (Read 1351 times)

HelpingHands

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GAL's Report to the Court.
« on: Nov 10, 2006, 05:46:22 PM »
Hi Soc, Thought I would post you the GAL's Report and get your take on the situation. Mother lives in VA, court is in VA and father and child reside in TN.

Comes now your gal, xx, esq. and submits the following report:

Your GAL met with her ward, xx, with her mother, xx, with her father, xx, and had a telephone conference with the maternal grandmother. Your GAL has also reviewed all pleadings, correspondence, prior orders, school records and medical records provided to her.

This matter was litigated in the lower court on AUG 22, 2006. Prior to that littigation the parties have been in and out of litigation fairly often. However, the issues are ordinarily resolved between the parties. Father believes he has acquiesced to Mother's demands for modification too often. Mother believes that Father's motivation in the current action is largely support. Mother in fact requested that father give up his parental rights in January of this year to forego child support.

The current matter began as mother's action requesting that Father's visitation period be shortened and that he not be permitted to leave the state with the child. That action was filed in April of 2006. The matter was heard pretrial and an Order was entered spelling out Father's summer visitation. While this matter was pending Mother non-suited her action and father moved for custody. Father was very upset that mother had non-suited stating to this GAL that the mother constantly files with the court and then either enters and agreement or pulls the action.

Father's biggest complaint is that Mother intereferes with his time with the child. Apparently every time father is to retrieve the child for visitation mother goes to the school and picks her up early. Father is clearly supposed to get the child from school. When questioned about this, mother, at first offered explainations then admitted that she just didnt like that father got her from school and believed that he should pick her up from home. Further, at the pretiral hearing of this matter mother explained tht she was planning to take the chiild to xxx from May 26th thru June 2nd. Given that father lives about an hour from xxx some conversation was had about him retrieving the child early for summer vacation while in xxx, TN. Mother refused and judge xx ordered that the child was to be in school during the week of the 26th of May. Again, when asked by your GAL, why mother didn't just allow father to pick up the child while she was already down there mother explained that father should have to pick the child up from home.

During the course of her investigation your GAL became concerned about Mother's ability to adequately plan for and care for the child. This case was heard on AUG 22, 2006, one week prior to xx public schools commencing. At that time, Mother was unsure when school was supposed to begin. She had not done any school shopping for the child and denied being aware that school supply lists were available at the local stores. Further, mother is currently involved with a gentleman by the name of xxx. She plans to marry him at some time and move from her mother's home. She has not however secured a place or set a date for the wedding.

Father lives in X, TN a suburb of X, Tn. Over the summer your GAL intended to visit the father's residence but was unable. Father did, however, provide this GAL with photographs of the apartment. He further represented that he had hopes of moving to a larger residence in the near future. Father has four other children in the home. (names and ages listed) In addition father is remarried to xx. Both father and step-mother are employed. Arrangements have been made however for father to get *child* to school in the morning and for Step mother to care for her in the afternoon until father arrives home. Your GAL understands that Mother currently lives with her mother. Mother is not employed but reports seeking work. Mother's boyfriend has 3 children but your GAL is unsure what if any involvement those children have with her ward.

Since this matter was heard in Aug, *child* has been residing in TN with her Father. She is doing well in school and has made new friends. She reports missing her Mother but also reports being anxious about talking to her mom because of pressure being put on her about where she wants to live.

Statutory Factors:
1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs:
*child* is currently seven years old and she is in good physical and mental health. This factor is neutral.

2. The age and physical condition of each parent:
Father is currently 30 yrs old and mother is 31 yrs old. Father is in good physical and mental condition. Mother reports suffering memory loss due to a car accident but denies that this affects her ability to care for the child. This factor is neutral.

3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child's life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child.

Both parents have demonstrated an ability to assess and meet the needs of the child. Both parents participate and encourage the children to participate in extra curricular activities which are age appropriate. However, this GAL questions mother's ability to accurately assess and meet the child's needs. This is largely due to mother's apparent dependency on her mother as well as her inability to articulate any type of plan for her daughter in the upcoming school year. Father on the other hand had prepared and planned for child to reside with him. He knew where she would attend school, when school started, preliminarily set up counseling services for her and set up her room. This factor weighs in favor of Father.

4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members.

The child has siblings in Father's home. All parties, including mother report the child having a close relationship with these children. In mother's home *child* has her grandmother who she is also close to, in fact grandmother reports to this GAL that she is the one who cares for *child* much of the time. This factor is neutral.

5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child.

Both parents have played active roles in the lives of the child and your GAL believes this will continue to be the case. However, mother has been the primary care giver since birth with the exception of some extended time periods with father. This factor weighs in favor of Mother.

6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child.

From all appearances mother has not actively supported the child's contact with Father. Mother claims however, that much of the disruption with respect to Father's visits is caused by her mother and not her. Mother has suggested to this GAL that but for her mother things would be fine between her and *father*. While *child* has been with father, father has actively supported mother's relationship, he has kept mother updated and allowed for liberal phone contact. Your GAL is hopeful that this vane will continue if he is granted custody. This factor weighs in favor of father.

7. The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child and the ability of each parent to ccoperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child.

Your GAL finds that both parents have demonstrated an ability to maintain a continuing relationship with the child. While your GAL is unaware of any particular instances of dispute resolution she beleives both parents would be willing and capable of resolving said disputes. This factor is neutral.

8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understand, age and experience to express such a preference.

In this case the child is below the age of discretion. However, *child* has expressed at different times a preference to stay with her Father and a preference to stay with her Mother. After the hearing in Juvenile Court, your GAL went to *child* to advise her that she would be returning to TN with her father. Your GAL fully expected the child to be upset about this having been here with her mother for nearly a month after her summer visit with dad. She however, smiled and expressed her excitement at living with her sisters. She also expressed that she would miss her Mother. I weighed this factor neutral.

9. Any history of family abuse as defined in section 16.1-228.

Your GAL is not aware of abuse in either home. Therefore this factor weighs neutral.

10. Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

There are no additional factors considered.

With regard to the foregoing factors your GAL believes that factors 3, 4,5 and 6 should be given the most weight. The fact that Mother did not have a plan at the time of trial and seems to continue to change her plans based on her Mother's desires is particularly troubling to this GAL. Mother is an extraordinarily likable young woman and your GAL believes that she wants to move out on her own and marry *boyfriends name*  and begin a new life. Futher mother states that she does not wish to interfere. Unfortunately, however without working Mother is not in a position to support herself or her child without the assitance of her mother.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the foregoing analysis your GAL recommends that physical custody remain with Father, subject to Mother's reasonable visitation as listed below.

1). WEEKEND VISITATION: Mother shall have visitation rights with the Child every weekend the child has a school break in excess of two days except for the hollidays listed below. Additionally, mother shall be entitled to visitation during any weekend she chooses, from Friday at 6:00 pm to Sunday at 6:00pm so long as the child remains in TN for that weekend. Mother must give Father seven days notice before exercising the aforementioned weekend visitations.

2) Summer Vacation- Child not in School: Mother shall have custody of the child for the summer months to begin not earlier than one week after the regular school year terminates and will conclude not later than one week before the regular school year begins.The father must check with local school authorities to determine exactly when the regular school period ends, and the new school period begins in the Fall. The father will have one two week period of vacation during the month of July. The Father will make his selection and notify the Mother of the dates of the Summer visitation, in writing, no later than April 1 of each year.

3) Mother's Day, Father's Day: Regardless of any schedule of visitation set forth herein, the Child will be with Mother on  Mother's Day Weekend. Likewise, the child will be with the Father on Father's Day weekend from 6pm on Friday to 6pm on Sunday.

4) Christmas Holiday Season: The Child will be with the Mother from 2:00pm on Dec 26 until 2pm on January 1.

5) Easter/Spring Break The Child shall be with Mother from 6:00pm the day school recesses until 6pm the day prior to the Child's return to school.

6) Thanksgiving: In Odd numbered calendar years, the Father shall have visitation from school dismissal the day before Thanksgiving until 6:00 pm on the following Sunday. In Even years the Child will be with the Mother.

d. Notice and Modification. Father shall provide Mother a school calendar at the beginning of the school year as well as any adjustments therto as they become available. The Mother shall notify Father at least 7 days in advance that she will not be exercising a scheduled visitation so that the Father may make appropriate plans. The parties may agree to such additional periods of visitations and adjustments of the visitation schedule as they deem advisable.

f. Telephone calls   when the child is with one party  the other party shall have the right to talk to the child on the telephone between the hours of 6:00pm and 8:00pm Unless the parties agree otherwise, the calls shall be of reasonable duration.

Signed GAL,

Served on Defendant and complainant's attorney.

The GAL changed the visitation schedules -I believe that is mainly to have the mother do the transporting now, as the times wouldn't allow for me to transport her out of state, though it doesn't say Mother to provide transportation, it's obvious from the times.

1. The court order states we have 10 days to respond to the report. Is that to deny or correct the facts, state in agreeance with visitation schedule, or what?

2. Do you believe given the facts contained in the report- that the court will follow the GAL's recommendations?( I know you are not a mind reader, just asking if it's enough to make a change of circumstance or substantial changes to award the change in custody)

3. Can the fact that the child has NOW resided with me for 3 months in another state, constitute a material and substantial change in circumstance?

4. The mother has a brain injury- memory loss- affecting her life- and ability to care for the child... can I write that in the response to the GAL's report?

5. The GAL didn't include other facts, including abuse in the mother's home(I have copies of the court records where she punched her mom and was arrested for assault) I told her about the court record, or that she admitted to frequenting pool halls and the local bar,etc in court. How do I bring up these facts? Can these issues be raised during the response to the GAL's report or do I have to wait to do this in court?

Thank you Soc.  


socrateaser

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RE: GAL's Report to the Court.
« Reply #1 on: Nov 10, 2006, 07:53:22 PM »
>1. The court order states we have 10 days to respond to the
>report. Is that to deny or correct the facts, state in
>agreeance with visitation schedule, or what?

You can object or support or say nothing. You can ask for an evidentiary hearing and hire your own expert to testify and try to discredit or bolster the GAL's report.

>2. Do you believe given the facts contained in the report-
>that the court will follow the GAL's recommendations?( I know
>you are not a mind reader, just asking if it's enough to make
>a change of circumstance or substantial changes to award the
>change in custody)

Court's usually stick with the status quo. So, whatever's happening right now, is likely to be what will be ordered, absent some clear and convincing evidence supporting a different outcome. As the GAL's report is unremarkable, I see nothing rising to cause the court to make any changes.

>
>3. Can the fact that the child has NOW resided with me for 3
>months in another state, constitute a material and substantial
>change in circumstance?

It does. Not maybe.

>
>4. The mother has a brain injury- memory loss- affecting her
>life- and ability to care for the child... can I write that in
>the response to the GAL's report?

I'd be careful about doing anything that could be viewed as denegrating the other parent. It will make the judge believe you are hostile and that is a deal killer. You want to be solely concerned with the child's interests, even at the risk of losing custody. That's how you win.

>5. The GAL didn't include other facts, including abuse in the
>mother's home(I have copies of the court records where she
>punched her mom and was arrested for assault) I told her about
>the court record, or that she admitted to frequenting pool
>halls and the local bar,etc in court. How do I bring up these
>facts? Can these issues be raised during the response to the
>GAL's report or do I have to wait to do this in court?

If it's a one time thing, and it was more than one year ago, I wouldn't raise the issue, for the reasons already stated. If it was within the last six months, I'd put it in the report. If it's between 6 months and a year, it's a 50/50 bar.

HelpingHands

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RE: GAL's Report to the Court.
« Reply #2 on: Nov 11, 2006, 10:19:20 AM »
Thank you Soc.


 

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