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A landmark study of 15,000 typical cases found that children left with their own parents fared better than comparably maltreated children left in foster care.

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Oakland County Court, Michigan

Oakland County Court

Child Custody Issues in Oakland County, Michigan

Advice from a Michigan parent...

June 21, 2006
Edited by: Annette M. Hall

Editor's Note: While this article is specific to the Oakland County Court System, the advice contained here applies equally to most of our nations family courts. An old adage comes to mind, "Let the buyer beware" bodes true. Please take this information to heart, for your children's sake. I've personally received hundreds of letters, which all say basically the same thing. Be safe.

This is important information to know before filing a child custody dispute in Oakland County, Michigan

After going through 2 highly contested custody disputes, 2 Formal Hearings in Oakland County MI Family Court, an appellate hearing, a total of 11 hours on the witness stand, 3 Family Court Judges, 2 "highly paid" private custody evaluators, 1 evaluation by a Guardian ad litem, 1 "Parent Coordinator," 5 Attorneys, 13 years later and at an expense of $200,000.00 (my expenses only), I feel compelled to share my experience with the Oakland County Family Court System, to hopefully help even one family avoid going through the pain and suffering my 2 children and I have gone through these last 13 years, attempting to work with a system that has gone terribly wrong for families.

The Judges and their employees have completely lost their focus on what is in the best interests of our children and instead base their important decisions not on the welfare of our children, but on their personal feelings. They all hide behind a government agency without fear or accountability for their actions and poor decision making and worse yet, are supportive of one another's decisions, no matter how wrong or unethical it is.

My number one advice to anyone who is considering filing a custody dispute in Oakland County Court is to avoid filing a dispute at all.

At all costs, avoid allowing the Oakland County Family Court System to become involved with your family!

If you and your spouse have already filed a custody dispute, or if you and your spouse are in the process of a custody evaluation, stop it now! There are no winners here. Everyone, especially your precious children, loses. No one is happy with the outcome. The thousands of dollars paid to these crooks are a waste of our hard earned money; money we could spend on our children's education or their future, even better used to take them to Europe for an educational vacation. The money would be better spent on anything but contributing to the wealth of these arrogant Attorneys and "good ole boys or girls club of private paid Psychologists."

The detrimental effect this process has on your children is inconceivable, especially when you are in the process of a custody disagreement. No one believes or thinks they will hurt their kids by going through this process, or maybe you think your experience will be different. Think Again.

After 13 years, my two children are still suffering from the repercussions of a custody dispute. They have had many psychological and emotional problems from the first day of this process and have been in psychological counseling for years and at great expense, in attempts to overcome the trauma this and their parents poor decision making created in their lives.

Parental Help Library


Do's and Don'ts of Contested Custody Issues

Don'ts

  • Absolutely do not agree for your family to be evaluated by any "Private Paid Psychologists" in Oakland County.

  • I am familiar with all of them. These are a group of men and a few women, most of them unethical with many problems of their own, who do not care about your children and their welfare. They are in this business because of the millions of dollars they are making on fractured families like yours and mine. On most occasions their initial intentions appear fair and reasonable.

    Beware! They want you to believe they are fair and reasonable and they are anything but. They also want you to like and trust them, so they are very cordial in the beginning. Once they determine who the primary parent should be, they do everything they can to place the non-custodial parent in a negative light. I firmly believe this is due to their hopes that the assigned Judges will not rule against their recommendations, therefore questioning their recommendations and reputations.

    For example, many private-paid custody evaluators accomplish this task by the way they score your psychological tests that are given you. When they determine who the custodial parent should be for your children, often they extract the positive conclusions and ignore the negative conclusions of the MMPI and Rorschach testing for the recommended custodial parent.

    The opposite is true for the poor chosen non-custodial parent when they take a small negative conclusion of the testing and turn it into a major issue to back up their claim that you are not fit to raise your children.

    Their reports, findings and recommendations are never balanced; they are always favored towards the parent whom they feel should be the primary caretaker of your children. The end result is one parent is wonderful and the recommended non-custodial parent is either insane or unfit to take care of their children, ending up with as minimal parenting time as possible.

    Once again, none of these paid Psychologists want the Judges to disagree with their opinions, as it would hurt their reputations among the Family Lawyers and Friend of the Court, therefore affecting their business of obtaining your referral. You also do not want these evaluators to be alone with your children, due to questions raised regarding what was discussed at these meetings and/or "psychological testing," behind closed doors, and it is their word against your young child. (There should be a law mandating that these meetings with children under 18 years of age should be videotaped.)

    They can also strengthen their position on whom the primary custodial parent should be, by the way they score your child's "psychological testing" and tip the results to their recommended custodial parent.

    One of our Psychologists and well known Oakland County child custody evaluator told my 8-year-old son behind closed doors, "His parent (me) had severe psychological problems." He made these false allegation based on the lack of collaborating evidence and after spending 15 minutes with me and without any concern of the psychological and emotional damage this did to my son. Don't believe anyone's advice, especially your attorney that this is the way to go, or to be pushed by the Judge and/or attorney to agree to any of their recommended Psychologists. You don't want any of them involved with your family under any circumstance.

    The assigned Judges almost never rule against these Psychologists recommendations and opinions, despite providing information to the Judges to the contrary. Following a lengthy and costly hearing, 99.9% does not change the private paid psychologist's initial recommendations. So you are wasting your money taking your case to the level of an evidentiary hearing.

    Many of them have violated their own ethical standards and even lied under oath in court to protect their reputations and the Judges continue to allow them to perform custody evaluations in Oakland County Court, after catching them in lies on the witness stand and follow their recommendations consistently.

    If you are in the position that you have no choice but to have a custody evaluation, insist on the Oakland Psychological Clinic located on-site at the courthouse to perform the evaluation. The Judge will insist that this service is reserved for people without the funds to pay for a private evaluator, but our taxes pay for this service and only agree to be evaluated by their own staff Psychologist. Also don't be conned by the Judge for themselves to appoint an evaluator, you will get stuck with the "good ole boys and girls club." If unsure if their recommended evaluator is one of the crooks, the Oakland County Psychological Clinic evaluators on most occasions, do not have a private practice outside the courthouse.

  • Do not agree for the Judge to appoint you a parent coordinator!

  • These parent coordinators are always Psychologists who perform child custody evaluations and are one of the "good ole boys club" of private custody evaluators. Their fees are exorbitant, $175.00 per hour in year 2004, and you will be stuck with them until your children turn 18 years of age. It is impossible to have them removed from being in charge of your children's lives, as the Judges will never agree to have them removed from your case. They are also recommended by the Psychologist who performed your custody evaluation, making them biased in their opinions from the beginning.

    Our parent coordinator was the Psychologist who told my 8-year-old son his parent was psychologically unstable and that is why the Judge took him away from me. This particular Psychologist should be removed from being involved with children at all. I have complained about him to every available source in Michigan without success and he continues to be appointed frequently by the Oakland County Family Court Judges and Friend of the Court Counselors to be involved with our fractured families.

    He also performs child custody evaluations in the Wayne County Courts. He has a private practice in Troy, MI, shared with his wife. Don't go to either of them as a parent coordinator or a custody evaluator, despite your attorney's encouragement to the contrary.

  • Do not agree to have the Friend of the Court perform an evaluation, they are no different from the private paid evaluators and there is nothing "friendly" about them. If you and your partner agree to a meeting with them, this will be the worst day of your life.

  • Do not allow the court to get involved in making decisions for you and your children. No matter how highly contested your situation is, go to a mediator to work out the divorce and parenting time. Sit down with your partner to work out a parenting schedule that is best for your children. If this idea seems impossible for you and your spouse to agree on anything, just remember, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on this inhumane process to end up with a parenting schedule you both could have worked out from the beginning.

  • Also don't think the court will feel your spouse is an unfit parent, even if your spouse is the worst parent of the decade. They frequently ignore complaints from a parent regarding their spouse's poor parenting skills and believe a parent in the divorce process is making this all up to strengthen their case. Your spouse will end up with the children full time until they turn 18-years of age.

  • Do not get on the bad side of your assigned Oakland County Family Court Judge, they will rule against every request you bring forward based on their dislike of you, not on the best interest of your child. Just spend a day observing their courtroom to see how outrageous many of their decisions are. They have turned all their responsibility over to Psychologists who have many problems of their own. After spending thousands of dollars on Attorney fees to file a motion, your Judge most likely will not even glance at your motion before your hearing.

  • Recently I also had several attorneys refuse to take my case, due to their reports that "my assigned Judge did not like them." Whether or not the Judge respects your Attorney, has a lot to do with their decisions. Just another one of the many examples of why our current Judicial System is unfair to children.

    These Judges are on the bench because of your votes and the whole current system needs to change. Just remember this at their next election.

  • Do not waste your money on the many arrogant Family Lawyers in Oakland County and you don't get the best legal representation by obtaining one of the highly paid "well known attorneys" in the affluent suburbs. You are paying for their high rent in these areas, not their services. They also do not care about your children: this is a job to them. My well known Birmingham Family Attorney whose fees were $275.00/hr, the son of a Judge, forgot to bring our 3 briefs with 26 pages to court with him on the day of our hearing, was not familar with my case due to turning all the work over to his assistant and just "winged it" in front of my assigned Judge and even provided information to the Judge that was unrelated to my family and to "someone else's case."

  • When I complained to the Attorney Grievance Committee about his poor representation for me and especially my son, he lied about his entire actions in my case. Beware of this attorney, as he will most likely run for the next open judicial position on the Oakland County Family Court.

    After waiting for my case to be called in the Judge's courtrooms for 13 years, I overheard an Attorney's conversation with his colleague that sums up their whole attitude regarding your divorce. He reported he did not care that his wealthy client's were disagreeing and fighting over every detail, "they could fight as long as they wanted, as long as he was continuing to get paid his high fees."

  • Do not waste your money taking the Judge's final decision to the appellate court. They never overturn the Judge's decision, only in the case of highly publicized cases. This process ends up costing much more than predicted by your Attorney. (My appeal cost $25,000.00 11-years-ago.)

  • Do not rush into another marriage or begin openly dating in front of your children for at least a year later. For the best results for your children, avoid exposing them to another partner for as long as you can. They need time to adjust to you and your partners divorce.

Do's

  • Do attend the SMILE program offered once a month at the Oakland County Court House. This information is valuable for you and your spouse to make the process least traumatic for your children as possible. The information for times and dates are on the Oakland County Friend of the Court website.

  • Do go to your pastor, Rabbi or Minister of your church or any church in your neighborhood for counseling for you and your children. They are the most beneficial and on most occasions free for their services. They can also assist you and your partner with working out the best parenting schedule for your children.

  • Do go through a mediator only. After you both agree with the mediator regarding your parenting schedule and finances, you can file your own divorce. The process is easy. You pay a $100.00 filing fee and appear in front of the Judge yourselves.

  • Do allow your parenting schedule with your spouse be flexible to meet your children's needs and honor their requests to spend more time with your spouse. The best assurance that your children will adjust to your separation, is to allow them the freedom to spend as much time as they want with your spouse.

  • Do go to counseling if needed for you and your family; just don't get pushed into agreeing to have a "Parent Coordinator" appointed by the Judge or anyone connected with the Oakland County Court. Avoid going to a Psychologists in the affluent neighborhoods. (Birmingham especially) Many of them are friends with the custody evaluators.

Remember, our children need and deserve both parents. This isn't a contest and don't think your situation will not get to the extent of mine, it will if you allow the courts to become involved in you and your children's lives. I have been fighting the system for 13 years without success. Once the Judge makes a decision regarding your children, it is impossible to change it. Our Judge did the unthinkable and permanently separated my 2 sons. Today they barely know and see each other. The Judge will never admit he made a mistake, even if the Judge's decision was the worst possible decision for your children. If I knew ahead of time what the outcome of the courts involvement with my family would be and was able to do it all over again, I would work out a parenting schedule with my spouse from the first day and then spend the time making sure it worked out well for my children. Our son's lives would have turned out so differently.

This information provided is not based just on my experience, but on my knowledge of several other families who have gone through this process, with the end result always the same. There are also many families out there whose end results were worse than mine.

This article was originally posted on the MI Custody BlogSpot (no longer active). Reposted here at the request of the author.

[Editors Note: To view more selections from our parental help library (see above) simply refresh this page.]