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Do Charleston County GALs Wield More Power Than Their Family Court Judges?


Do Guardian ad Litems wield more power than their Family Court Judges in the Charleston South Carolina Family Court System?


In September of 2022 a Disabled Veteran Father presented his case to a Family Court Judge. The Gal also submitted her affidavit where she stated that father had indeed done what was asked of him, by the standing court order, and notified the child’s mother that he would be taking their child for his scheduled parenting time. The parenting time that the mother had denied, stating that he had not given her proper notification.


The GAL also stated that this family should undergo a parenting evaluation with an alienation component and that she believed that the mother’s current method of supervision of their child was not adequate to keep the child safe, although she recommended that that Judge keep the status quo and keep the child in the mother's primary custody.


Due to the mother's denial of father's parenting time in the past, the Judge awarded the father more parenting time which included an up and coming holiday. The mother spoke up and told the Judge that he had that Holiday last year and the Judge quickly replied that he will have it again this year. The Judge also awarded this father all long weekends when the child was not in school.


The Judge made his ruling of father's parenting time, application of the Bark app so both parents could monitor the child's phone and an award for an evaluation to include a parental alienation component. He then retained jurisdiction of the case which he scheduled for December after the conclusion of the evaluation.


This father was under the impression and believes the Judge was as well, that this evaluation would be concluded before December given the severity of the allegations of parental alienation. Much to the father's dismay the evaluation was not concluded in December and the Judge released his jurisdiction and canceled the December hearing as he was not a Charleston County Judge and did not know what his schedule would look like for the following year.


The attorneys for the father and the attorneys for the mother had agreed on an evaluator for the parental alienation examination. The father’s attorneys placed great emphasis on the importance of an evaluation that would contain the proper examination and diagnosis of parental alienation.


Unfortunately the evaluator that they had chosen does not believe that parental alienation is part of the DSM-5, the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States, and therefore he would not be using the word alienation in his report.


The examiner shared this with the GAL but the GAL told him to go ahead with the examination anyway. The GAL did not share this information with the father’s counsel but she did share it with the mother’s counsel. Parental Alienation is a form of mental child abuse and had the evaluation come back containing the words and diagnosis of parental alienation, the mother stood a great chance of loosing custody of their child.


The father does not believe that the GAL followed the order of the Judge in this evaluation instead taking it upon herself to make this determination with blatant bias towards the mother and a blatant disregard for the severity of parental alienation and the long lasting affects this can have on a child's life.


This is not the only instance where this GAL has disregarded the order of the Judge. The father was granted and ordered every long weekend and was denied his visitation in February and in May under the supervision and knowledge of this GAL. The father was and is under the impression that the GAL is supposed to make sure that all court orders are abided by and bring attention to the courts if the court orders are being broken.


In June 2023, father received a message from mother that she would be taking the child for the whole summer leaving father with no Summer parenting time leaving him with no time with their child since April. This was due to the fact that the temporary order from the Judge, in September, had still not been filed. This left the father unable to force his Court Appointed time with his child so he did all he could think to do and he wrote both the GAL and the court ordered therapist asking them many questions as to why he was being denied his time and do they believe that to be what was ordered and expected by the Judge. The next day father received a letter from mother granting him two weeks with their child. Father states that neither the GAL nor the Counselor answered his questions.


Adding insult to injury the father has not been able to get the words out of his head. "The mother's current plan for supervision is not adequate to keep this child safe" written in the report of the GAL. The father questions what is more important than his child's safety and has yet to come up with a good answer. The father was grateful that the Judge ordered the Bark app so he could also monitor what their child was doing online but he quickly learned that the app only works when mother has the application running on her computer and the child is home with the Wi-Fi on their phone and that messages can be erased and risky apps such as TikTok and Snapchat can be added and deleted when the app is off or the child is not in the home.


Father claims he has told the GAL on numerous occasions that the Bark app is not being used properly as it should automatically connect as soon as the child is in their mother's home and that he has no problem when with it connecting when the child is with him. He also told the GAL and provided proof that the child set up part if not all of the Bark Application on their phone their self, as they were given the password and instructed by the mother.


Just last week father informed the GAL that the Bark app has once again not been connected to the child's phone and has not been on since the beginning of November and to this day he has not heard from the GAL and the child's mother still has not allowed the app to monitor the child's phone. This leads father to question whether the GAL told the mother to leave the app off of the phone, again regarding herself in a higher position than the Judge or the Judge's now signed, order.


These three instances in particular have left the father and those with knowledge of this case wondering if the Guardian ad Litems in the Charleston County Family Court System have more power than their Judges or if this one in particular has a blatant disregard for the standing order of the Judge in this case.


This story leaves me wondering if out of County Judges hold the weight or power over the GAL’s as do the Charleston County Judges or are Guarduan Al’s Litems just that much more powerful.


This is an opinion piece provided with the knowledge of this case by a third party and may not reflect the actual thoughts of the father but is believed to be factual in its content.


If you have a story about the Charleston County Court System or those who work within it, or any other Family Court System please email News@ParentalAlienationResource.com

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