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Guardian ad Litem Success Story 11

Kids’ Voice Guardian ad Litem assisted grandparents in petition for guardianship of young grandchildren providing them with a loving and stable home.

Kids’ Voice of Indiana was appointed as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for Chloe, age six, and Sam, age four, in a guardianship case. Maternal Grandparents were asking the court for guardianship of the children after the sudden death of their Mother, Stacey. Just prior to Stacey’s death, she had left Terry, the children’s father, and taken Chloe and Sam to live with her at the Grandparents’ home due to Terry’s significant domestic violence issues, including emotional abuse and excessive discipline of the children. Before her death, Stacey had shown videos of Terry’s emotional abuse of Chloe and Sam to her friend from high school. Grandparents also believed that Father was an alcoholic. Chloe and Sam went to live with Terry the day after Stacey’s funeral because Terry was their surviving parent. According to Indiana law, Terry had the legal right to custody of Chloe and Sam.

Lindsay, the Kids’ Voice attorney, assigned a volunteer GAL, who learned that Terry had appeared to make a positive turnaround, but it did not last long. The GAL learned from Chloe and Sam and from Terry’s retired neighbor that Terry was inappropriately disciplining the children again. Terry was also allowing criminals to live in his home, neglecting Chloe’s and Sam’s medical and counseling needs, and not allowing Chloe and Sam to have contact with their grandparents and other family members. Father seemed to struggle with daily life, and it was discovered through a court-ordered mental evaluation, which the GAL recommended, that Terry had a personality disorder. Lindsay filed the GAL’s two reports with the court and prepared the GAL to testify at the hearing on grandparents’ petition for guardianship. After a full-day trial, at which the GAL testified and played the videotapes showing Father’s emotional abuse of Chloe and Sam, the court adopted the GAL’s recommendation for the grandparents to be appointed guardians of Chloe and Sam. The grandparents moved to a different neighborhood so that Chloe and Sam could continue to attend the same school.

The grandparents immediately sought medical and dental treatment and grief counseling for Chloe and Sam. The Department of Child Services (DCS) had been contacted at the beginning of the case, but through the efforts of the Kids’ Voice attorney and the GAL, additional DCS services were not needed. Chloe and Sam would thrive in the safe, stable, and loving environment provided by grandparents.