How to Complain about Family Court
Judges, Lawyers, and GALs
© Shane Flait (2012)
Fathers serve their children and
themselves best by being aware of their
rights and the judicial process they
will face - as well as the strategies
they must consider during a divorce or
paternity action. Using their knowledge
to complain about judges, lawyers and
guardians ad litem (GALs) is an
Recognizing ‘unfairness’ and complaining
In our Family Court process, we need to
recognize when unfairness can occur.
This means ‘due process’ violations.
Three types of court personnel to watch
for unfairness that represents due
process violations are the judge, the
lawyers, and the GAL.
With only a bench trial (i.e. no jury)
in family court, the burden of fairness
in judging and fact finding falls solely
onto judge. His actions, pronouncements,
and demeanor determine when fairness is
not in effect – when he or she is not
being fair to you. He must comply with
the judicial code.
Lawyers - yours and the opposing
attorney - are often known for not
affording you fairness in dealings.
We’ll look at the lawyer code below as
Lastly, there is often a Guardian Ad
Litem (GAL) assigned to your case. She
is often very biased in her words or
attitude. She mostly gathers ‘hearsay’
information to construct her report that
the judge will use in his judgment of
custody and visitation. Look for
unfairness in her process and behavior.
The Judicial Code
The judicial code is found in your
State’s Rules of Court. They’re
essentially the same in every state. A
couple of rules are:
A judge shall perform judicial duties
without bias or prejudice. A judge shall
not, in the performance of judicial
duties, by words or conduct manifest
bias or prejudice, including but not
limited to bias or prejudice based on
race, sex, religion, national origin,
disability, age, sexual orientation or
socioeconomic status, and shall not
permit staff, court officials and others
subject to the judge's direction and
control to do so.
A judge should be faithful to the law
and maintain professional competence in
it. He should be unswayed by partisan
interests, public clamor, or fear of
You can see that the code is pretty
straight forward as to what it means.
File a judicial conduct complaint if
your judge violated the word or spirit
of the code. Ask yourself:
Were you mistreated?
Did the judge lack impartiality?
Did the judge demonstrate bias or
Did the judge refuse to follow the
Were you allowed to be fully heard to
competently make your case?
Write up what the judge did wrong and
list it as a ‘misconduct’- not an error
of law - since this is the Conduct
Commission you will address and they are
only concerned with ‘misconduct’.
You simply state that the judge
committed a misconduct by doing ‘such
and such’ and you fill in the rest.
You’ll need to submit the hearing
transcript to prove what you said is
true. Then you’ll refer to the relevant
cannon (rule) in the judicial code the
judge violated. That’s it!
Family court judges violate the judicial
code all the time. They consider they
have immunity for all they do, and
‘judge’ and ‘behave’ as they will. We
need to rein them in.
The Lawyer’s Code
This is in your State’s Rules of Court –
listing the canons (i.e. rules) that a
lawyer must adhere to. Learn to go after
lawyers for inappropriate behavior. They
violate the lawyer’s code all the time.
That’s because they are overseen by
other lawyers – not the public.
include: When representing a client
within the bound of the law he will not
knowingly make a false statement of law
or fact, counsel or assist his client in
conduct that the lawyer knows to be
illegal or fraudulent or use perjured
testimony or false evidence. There are
more to be aware of.
You complain about a bad lawyer by
referring to the Lawyer’s Code to see
what canon he violated. Then call up the
Board of Bar Overseers (the BBO) and ask
for their complaint form. You can add
more pages explaining the violations
How to complain:
Record the violation if it occurs in
Make arguments on how the violation
occurred and then cite the part of
the lawyer code that is relevant
Support these violations with proof
(court transcripts, etc)
Include all relevant documents and
transcripts (send only copies!)
Complaining about a bad GAL –
impartiality and accountability
A GAL is a fact finder, investigator and
evaluator of family circumstances. He’s
not necessarily an attorney so he
doesn’t have to file an appearance,
doesn’t have the right to do discovery,
and is not noticed on motions and
The GAL writes a report to the judge,
which is open to all parties, on what
the GAL thinks of the parent’s behaviors
and what he believes is the best
interest of child. The GAL written
report naturally is filled up with
‘hearsay’ since he simply asks people
what happened when and where. Hearsay
will be admissible as a written report –
but not if he is put on the stand and
requested to testify to his reported
statements and observations.
Your duty is to put him on the stand and
object to his hearsay testimony (of the
report) which is damaging to you and
present any evidence that contradicts
what he says. Object to GAL filing the
report without your presence to
challenge him in a hearing
The judge cannot relinquish his
authority to a GAL or a child’s
attorney. The judge must be responsible
for all decisions of the court.
How do you Complain about a GAL:
Submit a motion to vacate the
appointment for any clearly prejudice
statements, procedures, and actions he
Motion to Court to give clear direction
to the GAL –what specifically he should
be doing – and perhaps a time limit to
complete. – if you’re paying!
Shane Flait writes on issues confronting