After the fathers in New Hampshire got together in recent years via social media, we came to realize that even though the facts of our cases were different, the courts treated our cases in similar ways. Sequential actions were conducted that first took our children away in secret hearings that we had no recourse to. Then, we were called in for a hearing about the children, we were hit with immediate child support orders, which often prevented us from affording competent legal representation. Thirdly, we couldn’t get our children back, and if we did, it was years later and in extremely restricted ways. Lastly, after the children were taken and our income and assets attached, we were threatened with incarceration for non-payment of fees to court officials or the custodial parents, most always mothers, resulting in homelessness and loss of all financial resources, which were attached to pay the bills for court officers, lawyers and mothers.
Courts generally justify these measures by asserting a public policy interest to protect a vulnerable class: single mothers. Strangely, the actions of the courts are what create this vulnerable class. We found that the way to combat these systems were system wide. The interlinked interests of lawyers, judges, court-appointed guardians for children, psychologists, school officials formed a kind of gaseous cloud that enveloped anyone drawn into the miasma of family court and any one of these actors could prove fatal.
We found that this diabolical chain of interlocked interests had to be dismembered one link at a time. You couldn’t just get rid of the guardians or the lawyers, because the other actors will fill their gaps. You had to systematically destroy the career and reputation of every court official who stepped into your case and acted unethically or unprofessionally. Each one would step in and kindly report that they were there to help little Johnny and to get to the truth of the matter. With rare exception, they were all involved in an understood racket to move fathers out, to get the fathers’ money or other assets, and to keep the kids away. If they kept the prize away, the father would fight and spend his life savings and sell the house, proceeds transferred to guardian.
Since there was no head to cut off and end the life of this hydra, one could begin disabling it at any access point, at any official. More often than not the first official of any consequence in the removal of children and assets from a father’s life was the guardian ad litem, or law guardian. New Hampshire law is very specific as to how one is to be appointed, how much one can charge, how to request additional funds for enlarged investigation, and what constitutes a minimum investigation. Just last week, at a hearing regarding the removal of a guardian who had engaged in criminal acts during her work on a case, the guardian was asked by the judge, “Why didn’t you follow any of the rules for your appointment and work?” The guardian replied, no one ever does and I never have. She matter-of-factly stated that she didn’t know she needed to. She was ordered out of the courtroom by the judge.
Guardians, as the primary investigative arm of family courts, routinely break laws, routinely lie about their investigations, and routinely remove children from fit and loving parents, breaking up family for years and sometimes permanently. When public hearings were held this past year at the New Hampshire Statehouse by the Republican majority against the vociferous objections of the Democrats, petitioner after petitioner told their stories about how guardians had lied to and threatened parents, when separating them from their children. In response to the public uproar and recommendations for criminal prosecution for some guardians, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, who has ultimate authority and oversight for the guardians, solved the problem by simply granting all guardians quasi-absolute judicial immunity from prosecution and law suits of any kind. Criminal activity going on by court officials? Give them absolute immunity to prosecution.
The organized fathers fought back. One of us created a fact sheet and circulated a guide to how to eat a guardian for lunch. The first step was to avoid guardians altogether and refuse appointment of a guardian on a case. The second line of defense was to refuse to waive an increase of the fee cap. By law, a guardian is not allowed to charge more than $ 1,000.00 without a prior waiver of the cap signed by the parties. Still, as reported at trial and under oath, the guardians for years ignored all aspects of these requirements and the courts allowed them to do so with impunity. The Guardian ad Litem Board supported guardians in every single complaint brought against guardians from private citizens. So guardians had no accountability, until the legislature created an oversight committee to control the Board.
One father, who had his daughters removed unlawfully for years, decided he would fight back. He applied to become a guardian, beginning a fight that would reach all the way to the supreme court and the legislature, until he came into an oversight position over the guardian ad litem board, and, more importantly, he reunited with his daughters. Jeff Oligny is the activist discussed next week…
Second article in the series: NCFM Member Elijah Ward, the second in a continuing series, “After the Immolation of Sgt. Thomas Ball”
How to eat a guardian ad litem for lunch
Guardian ad Litem
National Coalition For Men (NCFM)