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Get Off The Bench & Family Court Reports
5199 Highland Rd. Suite 229
Waterford, MI 48327
Hon. Tracey A. Yokich April 9, 2008
40 N. Main St.
Mt. Clemens, MI 48043
RE: Public Concern over Definition of Father
Dear Honorable Tracey A. Yokich,
I have some concerns about the operations of the Macomb County Circuit Court and its definitions. You may or may not remember that in 2005-2006 the Macomb County Referees were only providing 4 days to object to referee recommendation/orders, which was not in compliance with court rule.
Through my initiating a Complaint in the form of a Request for Investigation under MCR 8.113 I took action through the State Court Administrator's Office and subsequently directly through Hon. Clifford Taylor's Office with the Supreme Court. My purpose was to ensure that Macomb County would comply with the statutory 7 days for objection and 21 days for request for de novo hearings upon disagreement with Referees.
In July of 2006, Keith Beasley confirmed that the local court would comply with the court rule and adjusted the local court's practice. This I was grateful for, because many people, especially the tremendous number of "pro per" litigants that you publicly acknowledged, were denied a fundamental access to justice by having such reduced time limits to figure out how to lodge their objections.
It was recently brought to my attention when I came across a video of your court room on "youtube," an online public social networking site for videos, that you provide your own personal definition of a father. To my surprise, what you responded to the litigant with is classical gender bias and is unbecoming of a sitting judge. It would appear that you believe that a father should work as many jobs as it takes while mother is allowed to work only one job to provide "roofs" over the heads of the parties' children. In this situation, I actually have been to home of the father and observed a wonderful roof over their head, and where he has been struggling to provide the best possible environment for the children which go unrecognized by your court room. It would appear there is a greater emphasis with your courtroom for income shifting from one household to the other without much evidentiary proof of its necessity, other than to comply with the funding requirements of Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
As an expert on Title IV-D of the Social Security (CSE Program), the purpose of the Act was to recuperate the expenses of Title IV-A welfare benefits that the federal government pays to the states, but in the particular case where you lambast the father, he is the individual on Title IV-A (TANF Assistance). Your courtroom has lost site of the best interests of the children in that case and has placed procedural and contractual performances ahead of real judicial discretion. This is unfortunately a very sad day in society where free for all welfare programs like Title IV-D of the Social Security usurp the best interests of the children and allow parents to continue fighting. In the case at hand, both parents should be providing for their own households so they may jointly and equally provide for their own children because both parents are fit, caring, and loving parents. In the situation of a father receiving TANF the court's role should be limited in attempting to carry out contractual performance under Title IV-D as it is directly contrary to the purpose of the act. It is understood for every dollar that is spent on the guise of "child support enforcement" that your local county receives two more dollars. I was integral in ensuring that the financial double-dipping was revoked from the federal statute and it is my goal to remove a significantly larger number of cases from the Title IV-D caseload. This will help judges reclaim real discretion, so that you are not forced to be a cash cow for the local county under the federal program.
I would hope that you take a moment to update your definition of what a father is by referring to many of the numerous resources that are available to you including this one:
This will help you understand the importance that this father plays in his children's life, which has nothing to do with supporting the mother's higher standard of living at all, but rather empowering the children through his continued contact with them. It makes little sense to allow two parents to continue fighting over one of the things that likely led them to the initial break-up, being money and power, and do something that places both parents on equal standing ground and nothing more to fight about.
Creating the appearance of an absent household to allow for these type of income shifts is both unethical and detrimental to the relationship of both parties with their own children and only adds to the tremendous caseload that you are juggling on your docket. Let's solve problems instead of contributing to them.
722.26a Joint custody.
(6) Joint custody shall not eliminate the responsibility for child support. Each parent shall be responsible for child support based on the needs of the child and the actual resources of each parent. If a parent would otherwise be unable to maintain adequate housing for the child and the other parent has sufficient resources, the court may order modified support payments for a portion of housing expenses even during a period when the child is not residing in the home of the parent receiving support. An order of joint custody, in and of itself, shall not constitute grounds for modifying a support order.
(7) As used in this section, "joint custody" means an order of the court in which 1 or both of the following is specified:
(a) That the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents.
(b) That the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.