My question involves a child custody case from the State of: MO
Our first GAL was removed months ago after I got a new lawyer. My old lawyer knew the GAL was my ex's attorney in a child custody case against me but said we couldn't do anything about it. In that child custody case, I was awarded sole custody, and my ex became very angry at the courthouse. The GAL remembered me and was aware that she had represented my ex in a case against me.
My new attorney was shocked the GAL was left on the case for so long and said the GAL should have removed herself from the case knowing about the conflict of interest. We filed a motion to get her off the case a few days after my new lawyer took my custody case.
Long story short, this former GAL sent me a bill this month claiming I still owe her money for services. I don't think I should have to pay someone unethical who took the case knowing she shouldn't have. Aside from that, this GAL was awful at her job, and I'd like a refund for the retainers and monthly payments I was already forced to make. She threatened to strike my pleadings if I didn't pay, so that's the only reason I paid her previous bills.
For example, this GAL stated in a motion to give my abusive ex more visitation time that DFS said my ex was innocent of child abuse. Well, I contacted DFS, and they said they had never spoken with the GAL! Also, during this same phone call, DFS notified me that my ex WAS guilty of child abuse and that they had placed him on a child abuse registry for our state! They later sent me a letter with more details.
This is just one of many incidents where the previous GAL failed to protect the kids. The next GAL we got completely removed ex's visitation with one of the kids because my ex kept abusing the child, even during supervised visits, so there was definitely some obvious evidence that the visits were going badly. GAL #1 chose to overlook this while billing me thousands of dollars and saying "Dad is a good parent". This GAL kept filing motions to increase ex's visitation time, which the judge denied due to the ongoing abuse.
GAL #1 was also aware that ex's supervisor was leaving him alone with the kids during supervised visits. This GAL didn't care and refused to do anything about it, even though DFS and the judge both said he needed to be monitored at all times.
Billing was also an issue. Ex and I were ordered to split GAL bills 50/50 even though his income was twice as much as mine and he had fewer kids (I have a child from a previous relationship). My previous lawyer refused to ask for a 70/30 split because the GAL was her friend and she said the GAL wouldn't like if my ex paid more money than me.
Also on the subject of billing - ex basically utilized all of the GAL's time. The GAL met with me once. She ignored all of my phone calls and emails except for one where I asked how to remit payment. She responded to that one within minutes. She did not speak with any of my friends or family, DFS, or the kids' therapists. However, she met with my ex regularly, plus 3 or 4 of his family members on separate occasions. She also spoke with one of his family members nearly every day and told my previous lawyer she did this.
I don't think it's fair to pay money for an unethical GAL who didn't protect the kids. I also didn't think it's fair to get billed for all the time she spent chatting with my ex and his family when she didn't bother using any of that info to protect the kids.
Is there any way to get back the money I've already paid this GAL? And is there any way to get out of paying her the additional funds she requested this month even though she's been off our case for months? I'm concerned that it will hurt my custody case if I don't pay her even though the judge removed her from the case.