Patricia Brady accepts appointments as a Guardian Ad Litem in both the Juvenile and Probate Courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Primarily, Ms. Brady accepts appointments as a GAL in Middlesex, Suffolk and Norfolk County. In addition, Ms. Brady has accepted appointments in the counties of Worcester, Essex, Barnstable and Duke.
Ms. Brady's approaches each appointment with complete impartiality and endeavors to gather as much data from all parties involved in the litigation in order to form a clinically sound basis for conclusions and recommendations which will be submitted to the court. The process consists of the following:
All members of the immediate family as well as other relatives and prospective or current caretakers may be asked to attend one or more interviews. Each party may submit a list of people they would like me to contact as part of the evaluation. This list should include an explanation of how each person is relevant to the situation. I reserve the right to determine who, when and where those individuals will be interviewed and whether they will be interviewed individually or in combination with others. Every effort will be made to create the least inconvenience.
Information will be gathered primarily through interviews. A second major source of information may be the written and or oral reports of other professionals who have had contact with any of the participants in the evaluation. Each party will be asked to sign all necessary releases to speak with these professionals and to expedite the delivery of records from psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, school personnel, health care personnel, medical and or psychiatric hospitals, residential schools, courts, law enforcement, or substance abuse facilities. The parties are encouraged to send any information they consider relevant to their position.
On occasion, the parties may be asked to participate in psychological testing. It may also be necessary for the children to participate in psychological testing as well. These tests would be administered by a qualified psychologist of Ms. Brady's choosing.
The parties need to be aware of the following modifications of the traditional rules of confidentiality:
a. Since this is a court ordered GAL evaluation, the information obtained from interview sessions, collateral contacts and documents reviewed may be included in a written report that will be submitted to the Court and or may be the subject of testimony in open court.
b. It is Ms. Brady's practice to discuss particular cases or aspects of cases with colleagues experienced in particular clinical areas in an effort to enhance the quality of services provided during the evaluation process. In such professional consultations, every effort will be made to preserve the privacy and confidentiality of the parties.
c. At times, it may be necessary to reveal to one party information given to Ms. Brady by another party so that she will have the opportunity to explore all points of view and conflicts.
d. If Ms. Brady determine that a child or adult party may be at risk due to the current custody/visitation arrangement in place, an interim report will be filed with the Court and or take other actions to notify responsible agencies in order to reduce the likelihood of harm, as required by law. As a mandated reporter, Ms. Brady is bound by law to inform appropriate authorities (e.g. DSS) if Ms. Brady has a reasonable basis to believe that a child is suffering or in danger of some form of abuse or neglect.
e. Ms. Brady is required by law to take protective action if there is a belief that any individual is threatening serious harm to another. Such action may include notifying the police and or the person about whom the threat was made. If any family member appears to be at serious risk to harm him or herself, it may be necessary to release information to a medical professional in order to seek hospitalization or to contact others, who can provide protection.
Unless the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is funding the evaluation, an initial retainer of $5625, which is equivalent to 25 hours of services at a rate of $225 per hour is required. This retainer is to be shared equally by the parties. Each party is responsible for paying $2812.50 representing one half of the retainer. The retainer must be paid prior to the evaluation commencing. Monthly statements will be provided itemizing services rendered. At such time as the retainer is exhausted the parties will be notified immediately and monthly statements will be provided and payment for services will be due upon receipt. Additional evaluation sessions, collateral contacts will be delayed when there is an outstanding balance. Should less time be required, each party will be reimbursed for the unused portion of the retainer. Any costs incurred in the collection of outstanding balances (including collection agency, and legal fees) will be charged to the party with the overdue account.
1) The standard fee is $225 per hour for each hour of interviewing, record review, telephone calls, report writing, appearances at depositions and court appearances (including travel and waiting time). The parties will be additionally billed for the cost of long distance telephone calls, fees associated with psychological testing if required and other ancillary costs necessary for the completion of the evaluation.
2) It is understood that if a scheduled meeting is canceled with less than 24 hours notice a fee may be charged commensurate with the amount of time scheduled for that day. If one party fails to keep a scheduled appointment, that person shall be responsible for the entire cost of the scheduled time.
3) Upon the completion of the evaluation, a report will be filed with the Court. The parties must obtain copies of the report from the Court unless the Court has stipulated another method of distribution. No copies of preliminary findings or the final report will be released without written instruction from the Court. The only exception is articulated above (6d).
4) In the event that Ms. Brady is deposed, the party requesting the deposition agrees to pay any fees regarding the deposition or complies with the orders of the Court regarding who will pay the fees for deposition. Ms. Brady requires a retainer in advance of the deposition which is an estimate of the time involved in preparing for the deposition, travel to and from the location of the deposition, the time for the deposition itself and the time to review a copy of the deposition. If Ms. Brady elects to have counsel present at the deposition, the party requesting her presence will be responsible for attorney’s fees also in advance of the deposition.
5) In the event that Ms. Brady is required to testify, the costs will be shared equally and the costs will be paid at least one week in advance of her testimony.
6) Despite the fact that Ms. Brady is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is important to understand that Ms. Brady will not be serving as a psychotherapist, mediator, or arbitrator with regard to your family. In other words, as a Guardian Ad Litem evaluator, Ms. Brady will not be providing ongoing psychotherapy, family or couples counseling.
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