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Bias in child custody cases: be aware of the warning signs, P.3

We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of bias in child custody proceedings, particularly with respect to custody evaluations. As we mentioned, bias can come out in any number of ways, and we’ve spoken particularly about unreasonable demands on the part of child custody evaluator.

Bias may also come out as: imposing unnecessary testing or unproven assessment approaches on a parent; giving unreasonable significance to every fault or weakness of one of the parents; excessive amount of time, attention and energy spent on one parent over the other; or making judgments that extend beyond the evaluator’s area of expertise. These and other signs of bias should be recognized for what they are and addressed as early on in the process as possible. 

Working with an experienced attorney in child custody cases is important so that a parent is able to take action to address bias as soon as possible. Back in November, when we began our series of posts dealing with judicial bias in child custody cases, we wrote about a Michigan judge who was accused of bias by a mother in the midst of a contentious child custody case. As we noted then, the motion to remove the judge failed for lack of evidence of bias. Late last month, though, the judge voluntarily withdrew from the case, citing allegations by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission that she engaged in misconduct in handling the case.

The complaint filed against the judge was that she “failed to act in a patient, dignified, and courteous manner” in sending the couple’s three children to juvenile detention when they refused to have lunch with their father. The judge says that she withdrew from the case to avoid the “appearance of impropriety.”

Whatever the case may be in this instance with respect to bias, it is true that it can and does occur. When it does, having the help of an experienced advocate is important to protect one’s rights.

Source: Detroit Free Press, “Judge withdraws from custody battle, denies bias,” Steven Pepple, Dec. 29, 2015. 

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Bias in child custody cases: be aware of the warning signs, P.3 | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC