Parents Complain of Lengthy, Expensive Child Custody Disputes

They are called ‘high-conflict’ child custody cases. These cases are causing quite a stir in one East Coast state, as a growing number of parents and grandparents criticize the way that these contentious matters are handled in court. Citizens in Maryland’s nearby state of Connecticut are bringing their complaints directly to the politicians who make critical decisions about child custody disputes.

At the center of the debate: court-appointed advocates for kids involved in custody disputes, known as ‘guardians ad litem.’ Those individuals are selected to promote the child’s interest during custody cases, but they often fail both parents and the system they are supposed to protect. Local residents say the GAL system is broken because non-compliant GALs are permitted to continue to work as normal. Few complaints against these court-appointed representatives ever see the light of day, according to parents, who say they are fed up with the expense and delays that plague the state’s current system.

Individuals who arrived at the state capitol in early January explained that they are effectively going bankrupt because of their high-conflict child custody proceedings. One woman claims that her brother’s divorce cost over $1 million, while others say they are forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars for the services of a GAL.

Reforming the GAL-based system is still a contentious topic, with some advocates insisting that a longer child custody dispute is sometimes better for determining what is best for the children at risk. Others say that sweeping reforms could benefit the state’s child custody system, and a task force has been assembled to make recommendations about the system.

Children and parents involved in high-conflict divorce deserve to be heard and respected. A qualified family attorney can promote both kids’ and parents’ interests in the courtroom, even in the current GAL system. Maryland parents who believe they are facing a high-conflict divorce may benefit from consulting an experienced family attorney to learn more about appropriate legal strategies and options.

Source:, “Hearing for a change in custody cases” Mark Davis, Jan. 09, 2014