Stand With our Kids on HB 5505
This petition had 1,336 supporters
House Bill 5505 hurts children.
Not just any children. 5505 hurts kids in desperation, amid overwhelming conflict, crushing poverty.
Plus, implementation of this bill will result in extraordinary expense to the State of Connecticut in a time of extreme financial hardship.
Every day attorneys, mental health professionals and others work tirelessly to provide a voice to the voice-less and represent the best interests of children caught in the middle of their parents’ contentious conflicts. They are known as guardians ad litem (GAL’s).
The proposed bill is an attempt to severely restrict the discretion of judges and GAL’s who represent the best interests of children in family court. In its current form, Bill 5505 will have unintended negative consequences and silence the voices of children caught in the fray. They will lose on a number of fronts:
Section 1 of the Proposed Bill: Supervised Visitation
Without supervised visits as an option, children whose parents do not fall under one of the four criteria identified in the proposed bill could be denied visitation with a parent for long periods of time while the courts investigate allegations.
Section 2 of the Proposed Bill: Civil Actions Against Attorneys for Minor Children and Guardians Ad Litem
These kids may lose access to legal representation in family court from lawyers and GALS who should be there to protect their best interests. The proposed bill allows any aggrieved person to bring a civil action against a guardian ad litem. Custody battles and other family law disputes often don't have happy endings - it's not hard to imagine why a parent unhappy with the outcome of a case might take advantage of the provisions in Bill 5505.
By opening the floodgates to civil lawsuits, the proposed bill will force GAL's to weigh the costs of an action with the benefits of doing the right thing. In almost every state, GAL's are afforded qualified immunity. Why is our state so eager to dismantle this precedent?
Section 3 of the Proposed Bill: Treatment and Evaluations in Family Matters
Court Evaluators are being done a disservice here that will also harm the children we are trying to protect. There is a difference between evaluations and therapy. Evaluators are NOT treatment providers like therapists. The whole purpose of an independent evaluator in family court matters is impartiality and objectivity. These evaluators have specialized training in the dynamics of high conflict cases in the context of family court. Allowing any and all mental health professionals to be identified as evaluators does an injustice to all, especially the families and courts that are relying on the professionalism and integrity of court evaluations to reach a resolution that is in the best interest of the child.
Section 4 of the Proposed Bill: Matters on Which an AMC or GAL May Be Heard
By limiting the information about which a GAL may testify, the proposed bill erodes the comprehensive representation of children. Because low to middle income families cannot afford to pay providers for the time it takes to testify, courts would be left with limited, incomplete information on which to base decisions. This provision also compromises the confidentiality of the child/therapist relationship, thereby negatively affecting the child’s treatment.
Bill 5505 is focused purely on the best interests of parents.
We stand with and for Connecticut's children.
We sincerely hope you will too.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.BILL5505.COM
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