Toby Hollander, Esq.
Guardian ad Litem, Parenting Coordinator
112 Ludlow Street, Portland, ME 04103
207.775.0721 phone
207.775.0722  fax
e-mail


 

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GAL

My approach to this work is to first meet with the parents (individually) so that I can get a better picture of the family history and what issues are present and most pressing, and then meet with the child/children. Meeting with and getting to know the children is often my favorite part of working as a Guardian ad Litem. I then turn to collateral witnesses, such as friends, extended family, and others who know the children and the family. I also routinely obtain medical records for parents and children, including counseling records, pediatric records, and school records. I often attend P.E.T.’s and consult with medical personnel.

As I observe your coparenting relationship and speak with witnesses to understand the issues of the case, I may recommend ways to minimize the conflict amongst the parents, which always makes the children happier. I often refer parents to the Kids First Center, parenting education, individual & coparent therapy, and play therapy for the children. I like to work collaboratively with the family, professionals, and attorneys to resolve disputes and avoid the emotional and financial repercussions of litigation.

My ultimate goal is to have the parents make these decisions for their children, as they know their children better than I ever will. Resolving family issues in Court should only be a last resort. Children have a right to a relationship with both of their parents, so long as that relationship is not harmful. My aim is to end up with two, capable parents substantially involved in their children's lives. Most parents simply need an independent view of their family and its needs and independent recommendations on how to move forward. An important part of any GAL investigation is the work of assessing each parent’s abilities to meet the needs of their child/children.

PC

I will start by carefully reading the court documents that contain the parenting plan, i.e., the latest judgment and any that preceded it. I will also read the Report of the Guardian ad Litem so that I can better understand the challenges your family is facing and also how the Court arrived at its decision, or the parties at their agreement. I will then meet with the parents, primarily to get a sense of them and their willingness to learn new methods of communication. At this meeting I will also explain the role of the parenting coordinator especially in contrast with the role of the Guardian ad Litem, so that parents have a clear sense of what to expect from me. I will gather information about any pending issues and their respective urgency.

I do not usually meet the child or children. The children need a break from the “litigation” and conflict, so I try as much as I am able to keep the children out of it. This is not always possible. For example, if the parents are in disagreement about what activity their child should participate in (and cannot agree even as to what the child wants), I may want to meet with the child to get the child’s perspective.

I rarely go beyond considering the positions made by both parents and the language of the parenting plan. I will then issue a short written decision. These decisions only come when I am convinced that the parents are unable to make a decision. I make every attempt to have a decision in a timely manner.