Bar News - May 13, 2011
Morning Mail: Re: Advocacy for Children – Courts Hit Hard in Budget, NH Bar News, April, 2011
As a former GAL, may I suggest that DCYF will be assigned by the courts to do a "home study" in lieu of the appointment of Guardians ad Litem. This has occurred in the past when the GAL fund was tapped out. Ignoring the fact that the Division has other, important jobs to do, the difficulty is that the caseworkers often apply the wrong standard in a divorce or domestic violence case. They do not apply the "best interest" standard which takes a look at both households and determines where the child’s best interest is served. Instead, they apply the "fit parent" standard which is their daily ritual in working with abuse and neglect cases. Finding no abuse or neglect in the primary caregiver’s home, they will fail to examine the second parent altogether. So much for a balancing test!
Lastly, the testimony offered by the parties in contested hearings will, certainly, include that of their children when the child has no other voice in court. The ugly specter of children being subjected to depositions and cross-examination looms large.
Please contact your state senator to ask for a restoration of the GAL Fund.