Evidence of Illicit and Potentially Criminal Activities with Regards to Parenting Time at the Michigan Friend of the Court

June 10, 2012 Doug Dante DougDante1@yahoo.com I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. There is evidence of potentially grossly inflated parenting time fees, potentially serious financial conflicts of interest, and potentially underhanded activities by parenting time coordinators. All of this means more money in the pockets of the FOC and its contractors, and fewer children who enjoy a strong relationship with both parents, which means potentially severe consequences for innocent children. This evidence is in addition to similar evidence collected here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/57079006/Some-Evidence-of-Illicit-andPotentially-Criminal-Behavior-at-the-Michigan-Friend-of-the-Court The law changed in Michigan in December 2009 so that the FOC can charge fees to investigate parenting time complaints. The fees are supposed to be for the "do not exceed expenses of the office for conducting an investigation" (This was called "actual costs" or similar terms in various legislative summaries) From MCL 552.505: "(3) Pursuant to standards prescribed by the state court administrative office under the supervision and direction of the supreme court, the office may charge the parties an amount that does not exceed the expenses of the office for conducting an investigation and making a report and recommendation under subsection (1)(g). If the court orders a whole or partial waiver or suspension of fees in the case because of indigency or inability to pay, the office shall not charge the amount or, if applicable, shall reduce the amount. An amount shall not be charged under this subsection if the investigation was not requested by either party. If the court determines that a request by a party that led to the investigation was frivolous, the court may order that the amount be charged only against the party, but the amount shall not be charged against the other party. Money collected under this subsection shall be deposited in the county friend of the court fund created under section 2530 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.2530." http://www.legislature.mi.gov/mileg.aspx? page=getObject&objectName=mcl-552-505 However, it appears to me that the pattern is that FOC offices *always* demand $300 as the "expenses of the office for conducting an investigation" of the investigation, and they simply refuse to do anything until they get the money. Firstly, it's a shame that the courts don't recognize their duties to

provide subsidized services to disabled parents, including disabled veterans, who simply can't afford $300 every time that they can't see their kids, and therefore end up with zero effective parenting time enforcement. The law even reminds them of their ability to waive fees. There is actually federal money to recover 90% of any spent this purpose, but the FOC does not use it. I am most concerned that $300 may be grossly inflated as the "expenses of the office for conducting an investigation". As far as I can see, most investigations of parenting time complaints consist of a worker receiving payment and complaint, someone handling paperwork, someone reading the report, and making a recommendation (sometimes less). Most FOC worker advertisements are at around $15 per hour for skilled workers and $9 per clerks. I simply don't understand how reading a form and processing the money takes more than 1.5 hours. This puts my total estimated "expenses of the office for conducting an investigation" at $22.50 of labor, and lets say $7.50 in overhead, or about $30, or about 10x less than the $300. This $300 does not even include a meeting with a single person! For that, it appears customary that even more fees are assessed! "Before the investigative process can begin, $300 must be paid at the FOC Office ...Should the court refer you to a Troubleshooting meeting, payment can be made the day of the appointment. If payment is not made, no meeting will take place and a report to that effect will be sent to the court." INVESTIGATION FEES INFORMATION Kent County FOC Investigation_Fees_Information.pdf Search: "Investigation_Fees_Information.pdf site:accesskent.com" on www.google.com to get active link. To me, these "expenses of the office for conducting an investigation" are so far from what I suspect the real costs are that I feel the it is possible that people involved may be intentionally deceiving the parents involved (and by extension, the children). Note that that this information is available electronically via the Internet, telephone, as well as payments and processing done via check, credit card, and mail. Furthermore, as I understand them, the facts suggest that the parenting time grants that Michigan receives all go directly to people who seem to often have a connection to the FOC, and go to subsidize the funding of supervised visitation shelters run by those people. These shelters appear to offer no free or low cost services to parents and children, and I'm concerned that their prices could also be excessive (note in the news article below, the center requested county money to cover their fees for providing those services for poor parents), and given that they appear to be essentially monopoly providers of the only service that allows some parents to see their children, it is imperative for the safety of the children and the rights of the parents and children that the fees they charge be appropriate. The potential financial conflicts of interest have already drawn concern from at least one County Commission: “The marital relationship between a Friend of the Court counselor and

the director of a consulting firm that gets referrals from family court judges has prompted concerns among some people who believe there is a clear conflict of interest. ” Conflict of interest concerns cloud court WITH VIDEOS Wednesday, May 25, 2011 By ANN ZANIEWSKI Of The Oakland Press http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/05/25/news/local_news/doc 4ddc9757e2371352240884.txt Unfortunately, it is possible that parents may simply be "priced out" of the ability to see their children, both through high fees for parenting time enforcement, and through high fees for supervised parenting time. Please recall that two parent involvement is well known to reduce incidences child abuse, so these high fees may also be promoting the abuse of innocent children! Also, there is some other evidence that these supervised visitation centers may be overused, and may therefore be interfering with the natural and protective parent child relationship for some parents and their children. Note the conflicts of interests in the article above. If someone is providing false information to the court, in the form of reports, recommendations, or testimony, it could constitute conspiracy to commit perjury, conspiracy against rights, and other crimes. See federal parenting time grants here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/630611/A-Quick-Summary-of-Title-IVDFunding-and-Incentives Importantly: The Administration for Children and Families shall make grants under this section to enable States to establish and administer programs to support and facilitate noncustodial parents’ access to and visitation of their children, by means of activities including mediation (both voluntary and mandatory), counseling, education, development of parenting plans, visitation enforcement (including monitoring, supervision and neutral drop-off and pickup), and development of guidelines for visitation and alternative custody arrangements. b) Amount of grant The amount of the grant to be made to a State under this section for a fiscal year shall be an amount equal to the lesser of— (1) 90 percent of State expenditures during the fiscal year for activities described in subsection (a) of this section; or ... (2) Minimum allotment

The Administration for Children and Families shall adjust allotments to States under paragraph (1) as necessary to ensure that no State is allotted less than— ... (B) $100,000 for any succeeding fiscal year. 42 USC § 669b - Grants to States for access and visitation programs http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/669b If the only services available to parents are vastly more expensive to purchase than their actual costs, exactly what is the service for which the taxpayers have paid? It seems possible that those grant dollars may have been wasted in their entirety. We can find out on Michigan's web site what they pay for: The SCAO has determined that service contracts for FY 2012 are available for the FOC programs providing the following services: …. Parent Exchanges (neutral drop-off/pick-up). ... Supervised Parenting Time. …. http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/services/grants/AV_FundingFOC_AppFY 2011.pdf Apparently, the FOC does not use any available federal dollars for this service. Given that it's funded by private fees, I do not see how these fees are actually used to fulfill the FOC's legally mandated duties to enforce parenting time, which include makeup parenting time. In many cases, parents appear to get no actual enforcement, and these “services” are merely the first step toward funneling parents desperate to see their children into mandatory services of expensive parenting time coordinators. Actual enforcement would include following the legally mandated makeup parenting time policies: From MCL 552.624 (a) That makeup parenting time shall be at least the same type and duration of parenting time as the parenting time that was denied, including, but not limited to, weekend parenting time for weekend parenting time, holiday parenting time for holiday parenting time, weekday parenting time for weekday parenting time, and summer parenting time for summer parenting time. (b) That makeup parenting time shall be taken within 1 year after the wrongfully denied parenting time was to have occurred. (c) That the wrongfully denied parent shall choose the time of the makeup parenting time.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/mileg.aspx? page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-552-642 Furthermore, the FOC appears to be willing to forgo available federal dollars and a significant benefit to children and parents by failing to provide visitation enforcement and counseling services for which the federal government is ready and willing to pay. One father wrote of his experiences with a parenting time coordinator: - the terms are not provided upfront. Later, the parenting time coordinator (PTC) provides you the financial rules he or she sets, such as Retainer Fees, Hourly Charges, Charges beyond session time, etc. [He later clarified fees were $200 per hour] - the parenting time coordinator (PTC) is recommended by the FOC. You do not find your own. The PTC gets business fed from the FOC. He or she will not want to ruin that relationship and will give the FOC the results they want. - when you explain that you do not like the terms, you are told you have to attend or will be in Contempt of Court. - when you say 'sure', it becomes an Order of the Court. - the PTC pressed me to relinquish my Legal Custody. - the PTC has pressed me on several occasions where I have not seen the same toward the mother. - the PTC instills the mother's requests and very rarely puts in place the father's proposals. - 'agreements' are not given in hard copy right after the session. They may be mailed. Or they may be presented to the recipients at the next meeting. The wording and phrases seem to be in the detriment of the father using working like "normalizing the father's parenting time." - sessions go on for three months without an increase in father's parenting hours and no overnights set. – a request from the PTC through the FOC that I sign the current state of agreements which contained wording that it was to be entered formally with the Court and not working to indicate that it is not the end result. – Private e-mail, October 19, 2011 It seems to me that a parenting time coordinators may be acting as a fiduciary agent of the parent paying them. In this instance, if they are not actually coordinating parenting time, but rather taking money from the parent as a ruse, such actions may be a violation of their fiduciary duties and potentially a violation law The Michigan Court of Appeals says: Agency - Fiduciary - Relationship A fiduciary relationship is one in which one person is under a duty to act

for the benefit of the other on matters within the scope of the relationship. In this case, the plaintiff asserted that the defendant had breached its fiduciary duty to clearly disclose to the plaintiff that it was charging additional fees and the amount of those fees and not to undertake a program of misinformation regarding those fees. However, even assuming that there was a fiduciary relationship, the alleged breach of duty resulted from the defendant charging a fee it was contractually entitled to charge, and thus the trial court should have granted summary disposition against the fiduciary duty claim. [Top of Page] Contracts - Consideration - Standard The essence of consideration in support of a contract is that there be a bargained-for exchange between the parties. Typically consideration will, at least for one side of the contract, take the form of the payment of legal tender. …. Agency - Fiduciary - Duty Fiduciary relationships -- such as trustee-beneficiary, guardian-ward, agent-principal, and attorney-client -- require the highest duty of care. [Top of Page] Agency - Fiduciary - Relationship - Standard Fiduciary relationships usually arise when: (1) one person places trust in the faithful integrity of another, who as a result gains superiority or influence over the first; (2) one person assumes control and responsibility over another; (3) one person has a duty to act for or give advice to another on matters falling within the scope of the relationship; or (4) there is a specific relationship which has traditionally been recognized as involving fiduciary duties, as with a lawyer and a client or a stockbroker and a customer. [Top of Page] Calhoun County v Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan http://coa.courts.mi.gov/Digest/DigestDetail? mode=view&digestId=78535 If a parent places trust in the integrity of a parenting time coordinator, and that coordinator gains superiority over that parent in the ability to control his/her access to his//her children, he or she has a duty to be honest with that parent within the scope of the relationship. In particular, if the coordinator is acting in an underhanded manner, knows that he or she is biased, manipulates the situation in order to act deceptively, acts deceptively, or if the coordinator falsifies documentation, misleads the parent, etc, then such actions may reasonably be a violation of the fiduciary relationships standard and a violation of law. The majority of parents in this situation are fathers. A strong father child relationship is well known

by the federal government to substantially benefit children: "Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children. .. Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. … children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. … In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. “ The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children Author(s): Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Children's Bureau Rosenberg, Jeffrey., Wilcox, W. Bradford. Year Published: 2006 http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chaptertwo.cfm Children can suffer severely when they feel inadequate access to a loving father: The mother told police that her son "had been depressed due to her recent separation from his father; the fact that he had been bullied continuously by the children at school, in addition to the constant teasing that he had endured because he was the only boy in the home of eight females," a report says. 7-year-old's suicide shocks Detroit community Gina Damron Detroit Free Press May 25, 2012 http://www.freep.com/article/20120525/NEWS01/205250449/7-year-old-ssuicide-shocks-community In summary, there is evidence of illicit and potentially illegal activities with respect to parenting time issues at the Michigan Friend of the Court. It is crucial to the welfare of children that parenting time issues be handled with the utmost professionalism and efficiency. Thank you for reading this document. If you have information regarding this issue, please contact me via e-mail DougDante1@yahoo.com. Please feel free to forward this information or offer corrections and updates.

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