In July of this year, Connecticut established a special task force to investigate the grim financial realities forced on parents of minor children involved in protracted custodial matters.
While most couples work through divorce with relative speed, high-conflict couples may spend two or more years litigating divorce and custody issues. Although the difficulty often lies with one spouse, the other spouse cannot disengage from the process when children are at risk. As a result, a guardian ad litem (GAL) or attorney for a minor child can be appointed.
Years of fees paid to the court, attorneys, and the GAL and attorney of minor children often result in the impoverishment of the spouse less inclined toward litigation but forced into a defensive position. An act passed by Connecticut aims to investigate several points, including:
- The roles of a GAL and attorneys for children in actions involving parenting responsibilities
- Whether shared custody is in the best interest of a minor child
- The cost of contested divorce actions, including attorney and expert witness fees and the fees of other court-ordered professionals
One Connecticut task force member who is also a GAL noted [i]t’s been a very long and sad journey as I have watched for over seven years this broken system affect the lives of hundreds of children and families in Connecticut. I have witnessed deception, manipulation, cronyism.
Protecting children and the personal financial stability of vulnerable parties from the damage of protracted custody litigation is essential. Recommendations from the task force are due in February 2014.