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The Oakland County Friend of the Court is harming children by ignoring Michigan law by mixing mediation investigation, and referee duties in the family counselor position.

Children are harmed in two ways.

Firstly, family counselors, who are not lawyers, make custody recommendations based on statements and evidence gathered without the conventional courtroom safeguards in violation of the Friend of the Court Act and other laws. Parents can make false allegations or offer false evidence without any consequences. Oakland County FOC should not make custody decisions based on which parent can lie the best.

Secondly, parents are not given the opportunity for meaningful and confidential mediation, but rather are thrust into a combative atmosphere. The law requires the FOC to offer voluntary neutral and confidential mediators, because studies and common sense say that if the parents can make a rational agreement, it's probably the best option for them and their kids. Instead, family counselors make snap judgments and stick kids into cookie cutter custody arrangements when that may or may not be what's best them or their parents.

An original job description from Oakland County as well as my amateur legal analysis (I am a concerned citizen; not a lawyer) are available below. More information is available at the Oakland County Friend of the Court website here (another amateur legal analysis is available):


I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advise, but in my lay person's opinion, the position listed violates the following Michigan Court Rules and Michigan Law in the following ways:

Firstly, I doubt that a direct hire is legal here. The Friend of the Court Act 552.513 Domestic relations mediation, says in part:

(1) The office shall provide, either directly or by contract, domestic relations mediation to assist the parties in settling voluntarily a dispute concerning child custody or parenting time that arises in a friend of the court case. Parties shall not be required to meet with a domestic relations mediator. The service may be provided directly by the office only if such a service is in place on July 1, 1983, if the service is not available from a private source, or if the court can demonstrate that providing the service within the friend of the court office is cost beneficial. Any expansion of existing services provided by the court on July 1, 1983 shall be provided by an individual meeting the domestic relations mediator minimum qualifications listed under subsection (4).

Counseling is obviously available from many private sources in Oakland County. I doubt that the court has a study on file showing that the service within the FOC office is beneficial, particularly one conducted by an independent party.

This family counselor "provides mediation". However, he or she also "conducts investigations". By mixing the investigative and the mediation duties, the Oakland County FOC appears to force parties to meet with family counselors, and thus with mediators, in apparent violation of the paragraph above.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 make this more clear, by requiring strict confidentiality from mediators:

(2) If an agreement is reached by the parties through domestic relations mediation, a consent order incorporating the agreement shall be prepared by an employee of the office who is a member of the state bar of Michigan; under section 22, by a member of the state bar of Michigan; or by the attorney for 1 of the parties. The consent order shall be provided to, and shall be entered by, the court.

If no agreement is reached, then there is no consent order, and the counselor, who is probably not a member of the state bar, can't work with the member of the state bar or either attorney to draw up the agreement. However, this family counselor (mediator) "prepares written recommendations regarding custody, parenting time and related matters for review and determination by a Friend of the Court Referee and/or
a Family Division Judge." Mediators should never do that! It violates confidentiality. Even if they were to communicate with anyone, they should only communicate with a member of the state bar or an attorney - not the court directly, yet that's exactly what the job description says that they do!

(3) Except as provided in subsection (2), a communication between a domestic relations mediator and a party to a domestic relations mediation is confidential. The secrecy of the communication shall be preserved inviolate as a privileged communication. The communication shall not be admitted in evidence in any proceedings. The same protection shall be given to communications between the parties in the presence of the mediator.

Well, if a mediator is conducting an investigation and making recommendations that go before a Referee or Judge, then there is no way that communications with this person can be reasonably considered "confidential".

If the State of Michigan didn't make it clear enough that they didn't want mediators to be investigators too, they added MCL 552.515 Section 15, Performance by mediator of certain functions involving party prohibited:

An employee of the office who performs domestic relations mediation in a friend of the court case involving a particular party shall not perform referee functions, investigation and recommendation functions, or enforcement functions as to any domestic relations matter involving that party.

So a family counselor that "provides mediation" cannot also "conducts investigations". But that's exactly what the advertisement below says the job is!

In Oakland County, Family Counselors act as mediators. Family Counselors are assigned to a single team with a given the judge - judge has one mediator who works for him or her. However, MCR 3.216 "Domestic Relations Mediation". It says in part:

Rule 3.216 Domestic Relations Mediation
(A) Scope and Applicability of Rule, Definitions.
(1) All domestic relations cases, as defined in MCL 552.502(h), are subject to
mediation under this rule, unless otherwise provided by statute or court rule.
(2) Domestic relations mediation is a nonbinding process in which a neutral
third party facilitates communication between parties to promote settlement. If
the parties so request, and the mediator agrees to do so, the mediator may
provide a written recommendation for settlement of any issues that remain
unresolved at the conclusion of a mediation proceeding. This procedure, known
as evaluative mediation, is governed by subrule (I).
(B) Mediation Plan. Each trial court that submits domestic relations cases to
mediation under this rule shall include in its alternative dispute resolution plan
adopted under MCR 2.410(B) provisions governing selection of domestic relations
mediators, and for providing parties with information about mediation in the family
division as soon as reasonably practical.

Look at MCR 2.410, which says in part:

(B) ADR Plan.
(1) Each trial court that submits cases to ADR processes under this rule shall
adopt an ADR plan by local administrative order. The plan must be in writing
and available to the public in the ADR clerk's office.
(2) At a minimum, the ADR plan must:
(a) designate an ADR clerk, who may be the clerk of the court, the court
administrator, the assignment clerk, or some other person;
(b) if the court refers cases to mediation under MCR 2.411, specify how the
list of persons available to serve as mediators will be maintained and the
system by which mediators will be assigned from the list under MCR
(c) include provisions for disseminating information about the operation of
the court's ADR program to litigants and the public; and

If Family Counselors are assigned to a judge (they are - see the Oakland County Friend of the Court web site), then the there is no ADR plan. If Family Counselors are direct hires and permanently assigned, then the ADR clerk can't do his or her job. There is no list of qualified persons. All of the rules regarding mediation are then ignored.



----- Original Message ----
Sent: Tuesday, October 3, 2006 6:41:56 PM
Subject: [XXX] Anyone looking for a job?

or better yet, does anyone know why there is a vacancy?

Job Order Number: 2498563 Job last updated: October 03, 2006

Product line/service: Services
Web site: http://www.oakgov. com

Job type: Full Time
Hours per week: 40
Job(s) available: 1

Job location: Pontiac

Job description: JOB NO: 100933 SALARY: BI-WEEKLY: $1,922-$2,515
DESCRIPTION OF WORK Under general supervision, provides mediation to
assist parties in domestic relations matters filed with the Circuit
Court in order to voluntarily resolve disputes involving child
custody and/or parenting time. Conducts court ordered home
investigations and office interviews in order to gather economic and
environmental information concerning parties in divorce, separation
or paternity proceedings involving minor dependent children.
Summarizes and analyzes gathered information and prepares written
recommendations regarding custody, parenting time and related matters
for review and determination by a Friend of the Court Referee and/or
a Family Division Judge. Provides crisis and dispute resolution
counseling to educate parents about the effects of separation and
divorce and assists them in generating alternative solutions
regarding custody and parenting time issues.

Additional requirements: MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS At the time of
application, applicants must: 1. Possess a Master's degree from an
accredited college or university with a major in Psychology,
Counseling, Social Work or closely related field; AND 2. Have had at
least two (2) years of full time experience in family counseling; AND
3. Possess a valid motor vehicle chauffeur's or operator's license.
NOTE: Applicants must bring a valid, unexpired driver?s license in
order to be admitted to any portion of the examination/ appointment
process. Volunteer experience may be accepted provided it is
equivalent in level and scope to the required experience. At the time
of application, applicants must have an official transcript sent
directly to the Human Resources Department. Applicants will not be
certified until such documentation has been received and evaluated

Directions to business: WORK LOCATION 1200 North Telegraph Road,
Pontiac, MI 48341 Department/etc: Oakland County Circuit Court/Friend
of the Court, 230 Elizabeth Lake Rd., Pontiac, MI 48341
Please apply by Phone, by Mail, in person or by Website .

Phone: (248)858-0530 Address: 1200 North Telegraph Road
Fax: Pontiac, MI 48341
Web site: http://www.oakgov. com


As you are aware, HB 5267 allows each family to arrange their own custody arrangements as they desire but if they don't agree only then will they have to share equally parenting or something close to that. You continue to ignore the facts of the current system where mothers have sole custody 80% of the time and where the Friend of the Court recommends this 68% of the time. The only cookie-cutter approach is the current system that grants only 20% custody to fathers per their established guidelines. Since we have already established that children need both parents and that custody is being doled out in a cookie-cutter fashion now then you should be all for HB 5267. Since you are not, then I have to wonder why... Do you have something to gain by maintaining the status quo? Oh, yeah, that's right... you are a lawyer and if you can't go to court and sling mud about the opposing counsel's client then you would be out money. You can't fool me, I have been there and done that and seen it from within the court and talked with hundreds of others who have expierenced the same. Lawyers begin the bias by pressuring clients to settle before going to the judge, the FOC pressures fathers into conforming as well as judges rule in the majority cases. We need to have this law, the time has come to fix this broken, corrupt and evil system that is denying children the right to both parents.


I agree with Darrick. Who ever thinks giving sole custody to women 80-90% of the time is not "cookie cutter" is lying to themselves. Ultimately, there has never been a cause in this country, (Womens Sufferage, Slavery to name two) that would stand the test of time. Ultimately, the laws were changed because to do otherwise would be unconstitutional. NOW seems to want it both ways. First, they argue for equality under the law except when it comes to divorce. Then, ANY man is unfit, child abuser, women abuser, (pick one or all three). It is just impossible to believe that suddendly 80% to 90% of men are unfit when going through a divorce. The only way women can continue this charade is by deceipt. The truth of the matter is that the majority of states have joint custody as law.
I live in NY which is as backward as they get. I can assure you that one day it will change in Michigan and NY. The days of women making these baseless allegations will end.
The major difference between men and women are that men do not want to separate the children from their mothers, but the reverse is not true. Women want to separate the children from their fathers so they have 100% control.
It also seems to me that women are VERY, (read MORE) concerned about the financial ramifications of joint custody than preserving their children's relationship with their fathers. They point, (usually several paragraphs down) that the big bad father will not have to pay as much child support. Well the reverse of that is women are fighting for 85% of the child support (assuming the children spend 15% of the time with the father 85% whith the mother).
For myself, my ex-wife is on "trips" and my son is at my home sometime two weeks out of each month. The reality is I pay child support twice, not once. I have all the expenses at my home and pay my ex wife for taking care of my child(?) So, I only think it equitable that my ex wife pay SOMETHING!
It is very dubious to me that if a woman was a non-custodial parent that they would ever pay a dime.


It is fallacious to state that a presumption for shared parenting is a cookie cutter approach. A presumption that the legal system is able to discern what is in the best interest of other peoples' children and a presumption that women are better parents than men and a presumption that children do not need a father to help them (except financially) is the real "cookie cutter" approach. Shared parenting helps parents decide together what is in the best interest of their children. When the parents can't agree, then a presumption for shared parenting prevents lawyers from driving the father out of the family.


On December 12th 2006, the nine-member Family and Children Services Committee in the House of Representatives reported adversely on proposed legislation that would have allowed children to have substantial and continued contact with both fit parents.
The Shared Parenting House Bill 5267 will die in committee because Democratic State Representatives Dudley Spade , 57th District, Brenda Clack, Minority Vice-Chair, 34th District, LaMar Lemmons Jr., 2nd District, Gino Polidori, 15th District and Republican Barb Vander Veen, 89th District did not do their duty to our state's families because they failed to vote for the bill. On the other hand, many thanks for voting for children go to Republican State Representatives John Stahl, Committee Chair, 82nd District, Tom Pearce, Majority Vice-Chair, 73rd District, Jacob Hoogendyk, 61st District and Fulton Sheen, 88th District.
Many people - mostly concerned parents and citizens - attended public hearings on the bill to voice support; and all listened while those with a financial interest in seeing the bill fail (such as the Friend of the Court Association, the Michigan Bar Association, the Michigan Chapter of the National Organization of Women, lobbyists from domestic violence groups, and even government employees) all lobbied against the bill.
Those who supported the bill relied on a basic premise that children should have both parents frequently involved in their upbringing as much as possible even after a divorce. This seemed like a simple argument, seeing as how it closely resembles how in-tact families already currently operate.
However, the arguments against the bill obviously outweighed the importance of trying to maintain the right of a child to both parents. The opposition argued that some women and children may be harmed by allowing a close relationship with both parents during and after divorce. The opposition believes that presuming both parents equal unless proof otherwise is not a Michigan ideal. The opposition would have you believe that requiring proof of abuse is too high a standard for child custody therefore no child should have the right to both parents.
I question the true motives of the opposition, Federal welfare programs paid for by Social Security - like Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, and Child Support Enforcement - provide hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to each state only when children are separated from one of their parents. Typically those that oppose shared parenting legislation are those who benefit financially from these programs.
70% of all owed support is never collected because it comes from low income fathers who typically never see their children. Over four billion dollars from Social Security, plus several billion dollars more in state taxes, will have been spent in 2006 alone for just the collection of child support across the country. An overwhelming majority of that money is spent on establishing orders and collecting support for the children of divorcing middle- and upper-class families whose fathers want to spend more time with their children but can not do to the current family court system.
Families in crisis legally do not have any other place to turn than to the state court system for help. But if state courts were to allow both parents to continue to take an equal role in the responsibility of raising their children after divorce, this would minimize the orders for child support left for the state to enforce - which would also mean that the state would lose billions in federal funding; and so would those who consistently oppose keeping both parents involved after divorce.
Very little common sense is needed to understand that sharing parental responsibilities doesn’t harm children – and it shouldn't take much more common sense to see how it would instead cause more harm to those who benefit directly from the funding received when children are torn away from a parent. These people do not take into account the overall social costs of denying children substantially equal time with both parents. You can help our society by letting the committee members as well as all of your politicians know that they need to support Shared Parenting and let's begin to heal our state by building stronger family ties when we respect both parents equally.


My children have lived the nightmare that is court ordered joint custody for seven years now. Be assured, there is nothing 'joint' about it! At best, it
is parallel parenting, at worst it is child abuse!

When my ex-husband and I separated seven years ago, I moved from the marital home to a home and bought a home around the corner. The children, then 4 and 7, in could walk freely between households, their school and circle of friends did not change. We started with a family counselor to try to agree on a schedule for parenting time. When we listened to the children's wishes, they elected to have more time with me.

Despite having a joint custody order providing 3/7 days a week to my ex-husband, he could not rest until his parenting time was 50/50. "I never loose," said the father who was court ordered to counseling for child abuse in the heat of the custody battle. I had to sell the home I'd bought around the corner, close my business and take a job within the 100 mile radius to start rebuilding my life.

My fourteen year old son came home from a week at Christmas Break stating, "He wasn't going to spend another summer at his father's doing nothing and not seeing another person his age!" The letter I just opened from the Friend of the Court advised me the age of the child is not 'a change of circumstance.' He feels he has three more years of a sentence to live out.

Dear Fathers, Stop! Your relationship with your children will hopefully last longer than your court orders. If you cannot be responsive to their needs when they are young, why would they choose to be with you after they turn 18? The reason 80% of mothers have custody is because MOST men want it that way. They acknowledge they were not the primary caregiver during the marriage. 60% of fathers who fight for custody WIN!

Divorce is difficult enough for children without being treated like prize property to be divided equally. Since the past is the best predictor of the future, which parent was the primary caregiver during the marriage? Which parent bathed and fed and took the children to the doctor and dance lessons and arranged preschool and play dates and volunteered at school? There are SO many opportunit-ies to parent MISSED by fathers who become accountants rather than parents, sharing the work and the joys.

I read a statement by a young father today, "It's like you grow another chamber in your heart when you become a father." Think about your lifetime relationship with your children, and grow that chamber, NOT the Judge's chamber. Involuntary joint custody is in NOBODY'S best interest.


I agree that a child should have both parents in their life. I am a mother of a daughter who was with me the first 3 years of her life. Her dad saw her everyday. He watched her while I worked full time and the days she did go to day care to have interaction with other children, he was allowed to come and visit her any time. However, when he realized that we were not going to get back together, he is the one that made all the false accusations against me. He took my daughter and did not give her back. This is the worst thing anybody can do to a parent. Either a mother or father. We finally got through the court proceedings and agreed to joint custody. Although I he got to see her 12 days out of 14 for 3 years. I then lost my job and got to spend more time with my daughter during the school year. i volunteered in her classroom 2 days a week for a couple hours. This was the best time I ever had. I eventually had to get another job so I could support us since there is no child support and her dad was injured and not working since she was a few months old. I am now working 50 plus hours a week and this includes 8 hours on my Saturdays with her. He at first agreed to let me have her on my day off during the week, but this only happened one time. He quit doing this as soon as I isigned an agreement that he could take her on vacation for a week out of state. So you see it is not women who play this game. I will always agree that my daughter needs my ex in her life, but he is still so bitter and he thinks that he is the only one who loves her. He is also the one who tells my daughter that I did not ever love her and that I was mean to her and that I beat on her. this has been proven untrue several times. I am in a bad position because I do not have the finances to pay for a lawyer to get more equal time with my daughter. He has a lawyer and a very good one that is why things are the way they are. I had a terrible lawyer who never communicated with me and was not prepared for our hearing. So I settled instead of taking a risk of losing her altogether. Do you think it is fair that he sees her 13 days out of 14 and he will not even let me have her an extra few hours a week?? So all you out there who read the post ahead think again. Not all women are bitches and not all men are a__es. But the court system needs to change and find better custody arrangemments that give the child the opportunity to see each parent.

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