Jennifer Graves Borcherding, Sievers & Borcherding — jennifer graves borcherding, guardian ad litem (gal): zero interest in the children she supposedly "represents" and 100% interest in money
disqualify jennifer borcherding as a guardian at litem
When I saw an online review link about GAL Jennifer Graves Borcherding, an attorney and Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) with the St. Louis-based law firm Sievers & Borcherding, I felt such relief that a coalition of people are finally coming together to do something about trying to get her disqualified.
(I apologize in advance for the long post because there is so much to include. If you end up reading the whole thing, thank you for sticking with me!)
She has been the GAL assigned to my divorce and much of the nightmare surrounding the whole case begins and ends with Ms. Borcherding.
If you care about children, the concept of “family” (however you personally define it), mothers, fathers, grandparents, victims of domestic violence, survivors of abuse, the mentally-challenged or mentally ill, the profoundly disabled, or genuinely good people who might just need a second chance, then I believe we have a responsibility to take a stand for every single person Ms. Borcherding has treated - and will treat - like yesterday’s trash.
I’d never worked with a GAL before, so it was hard for me to know what to actually expect versus what was unusual or downright wrong. After doing a ton of research, which included speaking to a lot of people about my experience so far (other attorneys, victim’s advocates, children’s advocates in the St. Louis County Family Courts, other GALs, social workers, other families who’d been assigned to Ms. Borcherding also, and more), unfortunately, I learned a lot of things caused me to become very fearful of how my case could turn out. I also want to clarify that these conversations I had weren’t meant to cause drama, gossip, or badmouth anyone - they were discussions which were strictly confidential and addressed the grave concerns I’d begun having about Ms. Borcherding’s authentic compassion for the children she’s being paid (quite a lot) to represent.
In fact, a number of attorneys I spoke with will no longer work with Jennifer Graves Borcherding. These are well-regarded attorneys who’ve been in practice for years and who take no joy in saying anything negative about one of their peers. But they sure weren’t shy about describing Ms. Borcherding as "difficult, " "uncaring, " "incompetent, " a "know-it-all" (who doesn't have any children herself, by the way), “not interested in the truth, ” “someone who makes up her mind at the very beginning of a case, despite the facts and then won’t consider anything which contradicts her decision, ” and worst of all, "the type of GAL attorneys move to get disqualified immediately" if she’s assigned to their cases because they don’t want her anywhere near the clients they care about.
PLEASE NOTE: If you’re a victim of abuse or domestic violence, prepare to be victimized all over again because Jennifer Graves Borcherding seems to be incapable of empathy (even on the off-chance she might believe you):
Provide her with police reports, photos or medical documentation about your abuse? Don’t bother, she won’t look at them, review them, or even make the most cursory phone call to investigate a single thing she’d been provided.
Did you work with a women’s shelter or domestic violence organization to create a confidential “Safety Plan”? Too bad for you - if Ms. Borcherding happens to know any of the details, you better believe they’ll be mentioned in open court because she finds Safety Plans to be “silly.” No lie - that’s an actual real life quote.
Have you been a victim of sexual assault? As a fellow victim of sexual assault, please know that I’m sorry for what you must have gone through. However, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t warn you since you definitely won’t see it coming: Prepare to be questioned about every intimate detail of the sexual assault in an open courtroom as Jennifer Graves Borcherding asks questions (without making any attempt to conceal which the Judge will demand you respond to, and you can count on the fact that the questions you’ll be asked will have no obvious relevance to your case, aside from demeaning you as a human being.
I won’t lie. This will leave you feeling shattered and emotionally devastated - how could it not? So you may want to coordinate having an advocate, close friend, or loving family member with you at each hearing - they can be an enormous source of support and help you deal with just how terrible you’ll be made to feel.
Sometimes, after going through a terrible trauma like sexual assault (whether it took place yesterday or 15 years ago), it makes all the difference in the world to have a non-judgmental and friendly hand to hold, someone who’s supportive and makes you feel as if you have value as a person and that you matter. You’ll need someone like that to stand by you if Jennifer Graves Borcherding has anything to do with it.
In fact, you may want to call around to a few local victim’s advocacy groups like the County Order of Protection Assistance program (COPA) or Legal Advocates for Abused Women (LAAW). Not only are they absolutely amazing organizations if you’re recovering from an abusive relationship, but they’re already pretty familiar with Jennifer Graves Borcherding. It’s kind of hard not to be when they have to deal with the fallout of her callous and irresponsible actions so frequently.
I’m sure they get lots of phone calls just like one I made not too long ago to someone who’d been working especially closely with me. I was sobbing so hard I could hardly talk and couldn’t understand how another woman would be so cruel and demeaning when she doesn’t know the first thing about me and definitely has no idea what I’ve been through. She made me feel ashamed.
I mean, it’s not as if she really has a reputation for being an advocate for women in the first place. Not that she has a reputation as being an advocate for children or fathers or grandparents or anyone else either, but if you’ve done a quick Google search for “Jennifer Graves Borcherding, ” you’ve already learned this on your own.
Her reputation as a GAL can only be described as reprehensible. If you’ve had a chance to check any of them out, you’ll notice that each review has a common theme: Jennifer Graves Borcherding has zero interest in the children she supposedly "represents" and she only cares about money.
I’m not perfect - far from it - but I really do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. At first, I thought maybe all the terrible things I was reading about her online couldn’t possibly be true. But then I met her and began to understand what all those other people were taking about. It didn’t take long to realize that not only is every awful thing I’ve read about Ms. Borcherding true but, in my opinion, many of those who reviewed her online held back for some reason. Maybe they’re afraid of her and I suppose they have reason to be, but there comes a point where people need to come together and draw a line in the sand.
There’s power in numbers and I know there are a lot of us who could make a real difference towards having her disqualified.
Look, if you haven’t already, you’ll learn that Jennifer Graves Borcherding sympathy towards your plight will be strictly measured against how much you can pay her and when you can pay it. Your job is to pay up, shut up, and not question her judgment or opinions. Of course, how friendly she is with your attorney makes a big difference too. I’m sure if you have unlimited funds and you offer to take her out for drinks (or your attorney offers to), things will turn out just swell for you and yours.
I honestly have no idea what might happen to someone who couldn't afford to pay her fees - she threatens to have people held in contempt, to throw out their pleadings, to recommend the other parent get sole custody “because they’re more financially stable, ” and so on - just because someone who's already paying thousands for a stressful divorce may not be able thousands more for Jennifer Graves Borcherding to do nothing. The ability to pay inflated fees to a GAL who couldn’t care less about either you or your child isn’t a reflection on you as a person OR on you as a parent.
It breaks my heart that this monster person is actually allowed to represent the best interests of children - she can't even be bothered to meet the very children she represents. I’ve read horror stories about how much some people have had to pay her - amounts in the high $20, 000s+ which makes the $8, 000 I’ve paid so far seem like nothing.
And just like everyone else, one year and $8, 000 later, she still hasn’t met my child. I guess, in her opinion, the one hour she spent with me at her office nine months ago tells her everything she needed to know because she’s never met with me again - it’s hard enough to get her to respond to the rare email or phone call. Jennifer Graves Borcherding hasn’t been to my home, hasn’t attempted to establish even the most basic of relationships with my child, and seems to operate as if she has no accountability to anyone but herself.
I hope I’m not alone here when I say if you’ve gone through a divorce, even under the best of circumstances, then you know how stressful and terrifying it can be - rebuilding a life on your own with a child to think of and adjusting to a new normal is never easy and it’s usually pretty scary (even if your previous life was a lot like the 7th level of hell and, in comparison, the “new normal” is all rainbows and unicorns and zero-calorie ice cream which tastes like Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey).
If you’ve gone through a divorce, even under the best of circumstances, then you know exactly what it’s like when things get quiet and you’re laying in bed about to fall asleep, and your imagination goes into overdrive and you begin thinking about all the things you JUST KNOW are going to happen. “What if my almost-ex brings up that time I let our little girl have Doritos for breakfast? Or that one time when we were dancing and my knee somehow bonked our toddler right in the middle of her forehead and even though she thought it was hilarious, she ended up with that giant purple bruise? My ex has so much money, he’s smarter than I am, and he’s cut off so much of my access to any kind money for legal feels - I just know he’ll look like Super Dad and I’ll look like a hot mess who doesn’t even know how to tie her own shoes. What if he takes our daughter away and they move to another country and forgets all about me? Could that happen?! Am I really a good mother?” and on and on and on. Deep down, you know these irrational thoughts aren’t true, but you can’t help feeling this way nonetheless.
Then, when you share some of these fears, everyone tells you it will turn out just fine, you’re overreacting, you worry too much - just like most people do when dealing with custody issues and a court process few of us fully understand… as long as Jennifer Graves Borcherding isn’t your GAL, you really will be fine.
Jennifer Graves Borcherding should not be permitted to serve as a GAL in any capacity - children and those who need someone to guide them through the court process shouldn’t be the victims of the very people entrusted with making vital decisions about a child’s future. She’s a blight on her profession and the type of attorney who gives good attorneys a bad name.
In retrospect, I don’t believe Ms. Borcherding really gives much thought at all to how her words and actions affect others and, sadly, I think she’s okay with that. I’d say she should be ashamed, but I’m not sure she’s capable of the emotion.
Have you had the same type of experiences as others who’ve had her assigned as their GAL? I’m not sure yet how to become part of the coalition to disqualify Borcherding, but if you don’t know either, please contact me by email ([protected]@protonmail.com) and we’ll figure it out together.
Here’s a link to the guidelines for GALs as outlined by the MO Supreme Court: http://www.courts.mo.gov/courts/clerkhandbooksp2rulesonly.nsf/c0c6ffa99df4993f86256ba50057dcb8/a6135d5fc4666c9f8625769d005a45fe?OpenDocument
Is this the kind of GAL that Jennifer Graves Borcherding was for your child?
It only takes a couple minutes to make a quick online comment, post a review, or send an email - I’ve even posted some links below, so PLEASE stand up to the system and help make a change. (Then give yourself a high-five and tell yourself you’re one super awesome person!)
In the meantime, how can you take action?
Let Jennifer Graves Borcherding’s law firm partners know what you and so many others have gone through and demand they do something about it.
Tell the St. Louis County Family Courts your story and demand they address the matter.
Jennifer Graves Borcherding is a particular favorite of Judge Sandra Farragut-Hemphill and Hemphill is very vocal about letting Ms. Borcherding make the child custody decisions. - make sure you let Judge Hemphill know how you feel too.
File a complaint against her as an attorney if she’s violated any of the ethical guidelines for MO attorneys (hhttp://www.mochiefcounsel.org/ocdc.htm?id=9&cat=2)
Post online reviews everywhere you can and tell everyone you know to do the same - FB, Twitter, Angie’s List, Craigslist, community forums, anywhere.
Jennifer Graves Borcherding, Attorney at Law
Sievers & Borcherding (apparently, Sievers & Associates added her as partner)
8131 Manchester Road
Brentwood, MO 63144
Revew Sievers & Borcherding on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sieversandassociates
Message them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sieversandassoc
Check them out on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sievers-&-associates-law-firm
Honorable Sandra Farragut-Hemphill, Circuit Judge
St. Louis County Circuit Court Division 3
St. Louis Family Court
Here are some review websites:
Jennifer Graves Borcherding Seivers & Associates, Jennifer Borcherding — Family court guardian ad litem
Jennifer Borcherding, Sievers & Associates, Sievers & Borcherding, St. Louis County Family Court, Judge Sandra Farragut-Hemphill, James J. Sievers, Melanie R. Adams, Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, St. Louis County Bar Association, Missouri Bar Association, Jefferson County Bar