I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and tried to commit suicide over three years ago as a result. I have gone through three years of counseling which is well documented. Today I am going through a divorce and a GAL was appointed to decide custody. I was fine with it until she started calling me a liar in court documents, and made false allegations from information my ex had given her. She did not even bother to compare his statements with the records even though they document a picture much different than from what my ex claims. Now she is trying to force me into supervised only visitation. My attorney feels that she is being biased and not doing her job. She has never even bothered to watch me interact with my children. Is there anything I can do to stop her?
Child Custody Lawyer
Grievance rules -- 2000 c 124: "Each superior court shall adopt rules establishing and governing procedures for filing, investigating, and adjudicating grievances made by or against guardians ad litem under Titles 11, 13, and 26 RCW." [2000 c 124 § 16.]
RCW 26.12.175(5): "If a party in a case reasonably believes the court-appointed special advocate or volunteer guardian ad litem is inappropriate or unqualified, the party may request a review of the appointment by the program. The program must complete the review within five judicial days and remove any appointee for good cause. If the party seeking the review is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, the party may file a motion with the court for the removal of the court-appointed special advocate or volunteer guardian ad litem on the grounds the advocate or volunteer is inappropriate or unqualified."
26 RCW is very specific about the requirements to be a GAL; demand your GAL's detailed qualifications, check them against the statutory minimum, and also check to see if the GAL is telling the truth; you may be able to remove the GAL because she fails to meet the minimum qualifications. If you can't do this, document the GAL's failure to do a good job, and ask the court to appoint someone else.
Your lawyer should be helping you and answering your questions. If you're posting questions on AVVO because you have doubts about your lawyer, you should shop for a new one. Be sure your lawyer is a member of the Washington State Bar Assoc's Family Law Section; this is no guarantee of competence, but anybody who isn't a member of the FLS is not a family law professional.
PLEASE READ: I am not your attorney. No attorney-client relationship is created between you and me by you posting your question on AVVO and me answering it. My analysis is based on the limited facts available to me; you should get your own lawyer and take that lawyer's advice after he or she has all the facts.
Family Law Attorney
A guardian ad litem has no authority "to decide custody". A GAL is to do what the order appointing the GAL specifies. In general, that would include investigate, write a report, and make recommendations. However, the court can reject all of the recommendations of the GAL. Only the court has the authority to decide (if the parents do not agree with each other.)
Just because a party does not like the recommendations of the GAL does not mean that the GAL is incompetent or not doing her job. Given the disputes involved in cases in which GALs are appointed, it is not unusual that at least one of the parties is not happy with the work of the GAL.
Your attorney should be telling you that the way to dispute what the GAL writes in the report is for your side to write your objections and attach verifiable documentation to back up your objections.
Currently, GALs in WA must petition the superior court of the county to be listed as GALs in the court's registry. The superior court sets the qualifications (usually matching those specified in the statutes). The superior court also has grievance procedures against GALs. If your attorney contacts the court where your case is, your attorney should be able to find the procedures.