action. 172 The father filed a child protection action and the family court held a temporary
removal hearing, finding that the child should be removed from the mother’s custody.173A GAL
was appointed to the child before the hearing. 174 Subsequently, the child protection court held a
full dispositional hearing, finding that the child would remain in the father’s temporary custody
and asking the GAL to file an additional report with the court. 175 The GAL filed the report in the
abuse-neglect-dependency matter and that court entered an order granting the father sole custody
and noting that no further orders were to be entered in that action. 176 Subsequently, the father
filed a motion for permanent custody in both the abuse-neglect-dependency matter and in a
private custody action. 177 The court granted the father’s motion and entered a permanent order
in the abuse-neglect-dependency matter without an evidentiary hearing. 178 The mother filed a
motion to vacate, and the court asked the GAL to file an additional report with the court. 179 Soon
after the report was submitted, the court entered Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and
entered a final custody order without conducting a hearing. 180 On appeal, the court used the
holding in Morgan to find that the trial court abused its discretion, vacating the trial court’s
orders, and remanding with instructions to conduct a full evidentiary hearing. 181 The court noted
that, in Morgan, the court had concluded “the parties’ right to due process includes the right to
cross examine authors, including so-called GALs, of evidentiary reports upon which the fact
172 Id. at 741.
176 S.E.A., 470 S.W.3d at 742.
181 Id. at 743.