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.


Anonymous said...

I think that custody battles can be tricky. My sister is currently going through custody problems and she isn't sure what to do. She wants to get full custody because the dad doesn't take good care of the kids. Most of the time when he is supposed to pick up the kids he forgets. Does forgetting hold any weight?

Megan Jones said...

Moving out during a divorce is a smart thing to do. There is no need to have both parties around causing more fights and tension. It can be really unhealthy for them and any kids there might be. There is no need to make a hard thing more difficult.

Jackson Willis said...

This is why it's important to have a good lawyer. Nobody will be able to stop everything that the other side says about you, but you will always have a better chance of stopping ridiculous claims when you have the help you need. I would much rather have a chance at winning the case than save some money.

bonobos marcos said...

While growing up I was stuck in a custody battle. My mother wanted full custody without my father visiting. However, my father understandably wanted to visit. I don't remember who they hired as their attorneys but I assume that they each had one.

Pavlos Lombardi said...

Things like divorce can be really difficult to deal with. I remember when I went through my first divorce, and how it was really difficult. It just helps to have a good lawyer on your back, so that you don't end up doing way more damage than you had planed.

Nancy Jorden said...

I have an aunt and uncle who have recently got a divorce. They had to look into finding a divorce attorney for help. When I talked to my aunt she said that it was good that they got an attorney. They had a hard time agreeing on a lot of simple things. I hope that they will be able to fix things soon.

Hendersonrose92 said...

It really is sad that this mother has such limited time with her children, but like you said she brought it upon herself. You need to look out for the well being of these kids. From the sounds of it the mother seems a bit unstable, and I wouldn't trust her alone with these kids either so I think it was a fair ruling.

Lacey Rockwell said...

This is such a heartbreaking story. I hate seeing children suffer because of their parents decisions and actions. Parents number one concern should always be the wellbeing of their kids, and it sounds like this family lost that. Such a sad story, I feel terrible for those children!

Casey Jones said...

That is really too bad that some immature and irresponsible parents lie to the courts to try and make their spouse look bad. That isn't the correct way to try and gain custody of your child! These people should work with their divorce attorneys and avoid making wild accusations at each other!