Friday, November 21, 2014

Unfounded CPS Complaints Lead to Loss of Custody

We have seen this movie at our law firm on a few occasions.  A maladjusted parent attempts to enlist the machinery of the state in a bid to gain custody by making false or trumped-up allegations of abuse against the other spouse or co-parent.

Earlier this week, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a St. Clair County Family Court judgment that awarded Father sole legal custody and limited Mother's parenting schedule to minimal supervised sessions largely on the basis of Mother's series of unsupported allegations of abuse and neglect made to CPS.

These unfounded allegations of abuse and neglect, combined with Mother's overall campaign of alienation against Father, left Mother with only two hours of supervised parenting time.  While it appears she brought this on by her own actions, we never like to see a parent stuck with such limited parenting time.

In this case, however, Mother was her own worst enemy.  The trial testimony not only featured credible evidence of parental alienation and unfounded CPS complaints, Mother also subjected the children to multiple forensic interviews, while she violated the family court's temporary parenting orders; a recipe for disaster to be sure.

Additionally, to make matters even worse for the children, Mother assaulted Father on several occasions, sometimes in front of these poor children.  As a result, the older child now has issues of his own and Mother is "overwhelmed" by her son's issues.

From a professional perspective, we note here at our law firm that the trial court's decision was deemed to be well-reasoned and supported by applicable authority.  With regard to the appellant-Mother's challenge to her limited parenting time, the Court of Appeals stated:
Other than to argue that she was justified in reporting the issues to CPS and that she loved and cared for the children, defendant has done little by way of argument to demonstrate that the trial court erred in determining parenting time.  Trial evidence supported the factors mitigating against greater parenting time, and the trial court’s findings with respect to parenting time were not against the great weight of the evidence.  Importantly, defendant has not been removed from the children’s lives as she has weekly parenting time, and the trial court’s order –as it must- left open the possibility that she can be granted more time in the future.
So the Mother in this unfortunate case will need to earn herself a spot back into the lives of her children.  Thus, she would be well-advised to start playing by the rules: i.e. following the court orders issued in her divorce case.

The simple lesson here is, even when your adult relationship has deteriorated to the point of divorce, you must make every attempt to co-parent with the person with whom you procreated for the sake of the children.