Thursday, May 19, 2011

Custody Evaluations

Much has happened in the last two months that has kept me away from this blog...including me finally having read Alec Baldwin's book, A Promise to Ourselves, which left me thinking about more father's rights and finally pushed me to make time for this blog again.

In particular, I'm focused a bit on custody evaluations and what happens during them.

First. if you are about to undergo a custody evaluation...DO NOT RELY ON YOUR LAWYER TO PICK HIM OR HER.

I cannot stress this enough.  While your lawyer can recommend someone to be your evaluator I would highly recommend that you retain the right to agree to who the final choice is...and you are the one who will end up footing the bill for their services...and your lawyer barely knows you so why would you think they can select wisely for you?

Let me tell you part of our story...
Billie J. Bell was the evaluator for my DH's custody case.  The first time we met her it was apparent that she did NOT like my DH.  She was abrupt with her answers and dismissed lots of our questions by telling us to "ask our lawyer."

When we heard we were having a custody evaluation done, DH and I spent the next 2 months gathering documentation from friends and relatives and putting together a binder with photos and medical reports and letters of recommendation and school reports and grades and just about anything else we could think of that might be considered pertinent for determining the custody of a child.

During that first meeting we handed over our precious binder...she opened it up, read the first page, flipped through it quickly, paused at a letter of recommendation from my uncle who was a Representative of the Oregon House of Representatives...took out the page and tossed it aside remarking, "Well, this one is a waste of time...what could a Republican possibly have to say."  Additionally it was very clear to us that the fact that DH was in the military was a giant negative in her eyes.

DH's time with her lasted approximately 1 hour.  She informed us that she would be asking us to disseminate a packet to people who could provide a recommendation and ask them to fill it out.  She wanted all the documentation returned by a certain date.

No problem....the date was still a month away...she told us to take the binder back as she would "never look at it."  and while we were frustrated, DH and I figured we'd just better do things her way.

Now, just so you don't think we were total pushovers...DH did complain to his lawyer about her dismissive and negative attitude toward his personal beliefs, his political beliefs and his job, however our lawyer told us that it wasn't enough to "change" evaluators and ultimately we'd have to file a formal complaint with the state to get anything done about it...

It was too bad we hadn't had a chance to meet her BEFORE we paid her $3000 to dig into our lives and our friend's lives...we never would have agreed to her as the evaluator.

There is more to our personal story and I will finish it later, but let me just stop and focus for a minute about your first meeting with an evaluator.

They have one goal...to get the dirt.  They will ask you questions all about your difficult time getting custody, the frustrations of working with your ex to co parent, the time you get to see your kids, etc.

And when you finally have an outlet to tell someone all about the awful things you've endured just trying to receive equal and fair parenting time with your kids...too many of you dads open the floodgates and spill your guts...all the hurt, frustration, anger, sadness comes spilling out.

THE EVALUATOR IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

If you need to spill your guts call a psychic hotline...call your parents...call your best friend...go see a therapist...talk to the bartender...do not use the evaluator as a way to release that pent up frustration of the unfair shake you are getting as a father.

You can't spill your guts to the evaluator.  You can't speak badly about your ex.  You HAVE to learn to correlate everything back to the children and what is best for them...or you will be picked apart as a bitter, unhappy ex who is just trying to "steal" away the kids to punish their former spouse.

In our case...it almost included anger management classes...which for anyone who knows my DH can laugh right along with me...if there is one man in the world who remains calm under pressure its him, but he made the fatal flaw of assuming that Ms Billie J. Bell was unbiased and impartial and was a friend that would hear him out and understand his pain.

Do not bother with a binder of all the wonderful things about you and your kids...So many websites told us this was a perfect way to introduce ourselves...its not.  In fact, I think it irritated Billie J. Bell that we presumed that she would be interested.  We quickly discovered how important it was to play by HER rules or ELSE.  It was very disheartening...and were I to ever go through it again I would not play the passive role that I played.  I was sure that the courts would be fair.  They aren't.  I was sure that Billie J. Bell was unbiased and impartial.  She was not.  I was sure that it would all work out the way it was supposed to... it didn't. 

How do I know that?  Because 4 years later there we were...
* custodial parents of one child
* siblings separated
* child was moved more than 60 miles from the maternal unit
* father still disciplines the way he see's fit and has never taken those anger management classes recommended by Ms. Billie J. Bell.

YES...ALL CONTRARY TO THE FINAL RECOMMENDATION OF MS. BILLIE J. BELL.

And the result?
* child we currently have custody of no longer suffers from all those behavioral and aggressive problems that were blamed on DH's awful parenting by our custody evaluator.

Funny how that works...

47 comments:

  1. I had an experience with BB last week, in this case with a guardianship. I was shocked by her report. She had already decided on things before I even entered her office. She refused to fact check anything. She made assumptions about the status of properties we own in different states. She accused me of things that never even entered my mind. The interview was lead by her to prove her case. I had some faith in the system. I, too, thought that it would be fair and unbiased. Thank you for writing this. It was helpful to me.

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  2. My experience with Billie Bell was the same. I truly had the "feeling" she had her "mind made up" before I even set foot in her office. Thats a "very scary feeling."

    Ms. Bell seemed "uninterested in most of the things I said." All of the issues and concerns I had with my ex made me the "angry parent" even though I had alot of "evidence" and "witnesses" to back up those concerns.

    My ex and her attorney were the ones who "chose" the evaluator. I had a bad feeling about it and I should of listened to my gut. I talked to my attorney and she thought Billie Bill was a "fair" evaluator. So we agreed to the evaluation.

    I truly believe that Billie Bell is "Bias" towards certain "Religions" and favors "certain lifestyles, relationships and beliefs." Alot of the information she put in her report we never even discussed. Information she got "directly from my ex" or she just "assumed on her own."

    I am not even a religious person or involved in church. Yet my "religious and personal beliefs were constantly brought up", along with "the beliefs of my family members" in the report "several times." (We never even talked about these things and she never talked to any of my family about any of these things.)

    She chose to leave out so many important "factors" in my case and failed to contact many "important people related to my side of the custody case" many who had "important information" related to our child.

    She "downplayed" or "left out" many things related to my ex's behavior including "witnessed violence." Dont get me wrong. I have made "many of my own mistakes" and given the chance I would do alot of things different.

    I spent less than 3 hours "total" with Ms. Bell over 2 months and I am just really worried about how my child will be affected by her decision. I just wanted it all to be a "fair and thorough process" Thats all I was ever hoping for.

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    Replies
    1. How did it go?

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    2. Not my way...my ex received sole custody

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    3. I am so sorry to hear. If Ms. Bell gets introuble with the board what happens to her recent cases

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    4. I am not sure. Hopefully they will take a long look at all of her cases and hold her accountable for not looking at the "childs best interests" above her own personal bias

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    5. I'm going through a situation where the ex is asking for sole custody after molesting and older child in the family. Although the evaluator was able to get the ex to admit to the molestation and that it was for sexual gratification he treated me terribly, more concerned about my sex life away from the children after the split. Poo poo'd CPS and counselors, and a detectives concerns that another minor child was being groomed. He also accused me of the dreaded alienating parent behavior because I was protective of the younger children and would not hear out my reasons. This case has not gone to trial yet, and the evaluation has not been finished yet, but keep in mind the other party who admitted to molesting one of the children is seeking sole custody of the three other minor children. I'm just sick at the though that this evaluator is biased and my children's future is in his hands. I did complain to my attorney, don't know what I can do now. Last I heard he was going to recommend counseling for the ex, ha ha, now that's a sure fix.

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  3. Billie Bell couldn't determine the best interest of the family pet. She is a liar and a bottom feeder preying on the family court system that is the biggest hippocracy of "best interest" I have ever seen.

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  4. It took BB a year to finish an evalueation with so much lies that she must have gotton away with a lot and ran off to Hawaii right before court and there was no way to even discuss all the false statements. She made a statement that one party refussed to do a UA for a parent superviser on a certain date but there are emails that the intakes were not done. That is just one of several false statements that can be proven so how many would be needed for displine action and malpractice? When court was over but still in the court room she yelled about the only one that was not paid for her yime in court and she sure could use some drugs. I guess someone belives she is untouchable.

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  5. How is she still being recommended for evaluations? I used her in 2008 and reading the above statements, I prepared the same things... the HUGE portfolio that basically meant nothing to her. She was 15 mins late to every appointment and it ended 15 mins early. She never asked any questions to my case. She was biased towards my political and religious views and believed all the lies my ex told. She never evaluated the case and claimed she never received my recommendation letters that were mailed multiple times. My ex won custody (was told it was a hard decision but we're both opposite and he's trying) and to date has been charged with assault 4 and surrendered parental rights to his other child.

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  6. My experience with Billie J. Bell took me from having joint custody of my children (which was agreed to by my ex to be), to giving sole legal custody to my ex. I provided many facts and documentation that could have been easily checked out by Ms. Bell, which were not. My ex lied about so many things, some I proved to my attorney, what did she do, nothing. What she does say is that Ms Bell's report was the most biased report she had ever seen, and says we can disprove it, if I come up with another $25,000.00! How a social worker that spend less than 6 hours with my two children, ex, and myself (total) could come up with such an assassination of me and my character s beyond me. How does this "expert" carry so much weight in the courts and get away with it? Maybe it's time we start filing complaints against Ms. Bell, as it appears she really dislikes Men in generally. What could she possibly know about me in my 1 1/2 hours she spent with me to make such a decision, and never looked at the many facts that was given to her about my ex.

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    1. I feel your pain man....she did the exact same thing with me...My ex even attacked me when I was holding our child, was arrested, (had witnesses too) and she still received sole custody from Ms Bell.

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  7. HI,

    I MYSELF AM PLANNING ON FILING A COMPLAINT AGAINST BILLIE J. BELL, FOR NOT LOOKING AT THE EVIDENCE THAT WAS PROVIDED TO HER IN MY CASE. I AM HOPING THAT IF SOME OF YOU DO THE SAME THING... THERE JUST MIGHT BE SOME JUSTICE IN THESE "CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATIONS" THAT ARE SO BIASED, THAT ARE DONE BY BILLIE BELL. REMEMBER, THERE IS STRENGTH IF WE STAND TOGETHER, NOT MUCH WHEN WE STAND ALONE. I KNOW FOR MYSELF I AM OUTRAGED THAT SOMEONE WHO KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT ME, THE KIND OF FATHER I AM, AND THE LACK OF PARENTING BY THE MOTHER, COULD FILE SUCH A REPORT, WHEN THEIR WAS SO MUCH EVIDENCE TO BACK IT UP.

    PLEASE IF YOU FEEL THAT THE OUTCOME OF MS. BELL'S REPORT WAS UNFAIR, BIASED OR WHATEVER, PLEASE CONSIDER DOING THE SAME.

    I WILL ATTACHE THE INFORMATION BELOW, IT IS REALLY QUITE SIMPLE.
    I WAS NOT ABLE TO ORDER THE FORMS ON THEIR WEBSITE, SO I CALLED AND THEY MAILED THEM TO ME.

    PLEASE TAKE SOMETIME AND DO THIS, MS. BELL HAS GOTTEN AWAY WITH THIS FOR WAY TO LONG.

    THANK YOU



    Filing A Complaint Against A Social Worker

    There are two ways to file a complaint against a Social Worker:

    1) If the Social Worker is a member of NASW and you believe he/she violated the Code of Ethics, you can request a Request for Professional Review (RPR). This is a peer review process. Depending on the type of ethical violation the case will either go through mediation or adjudication. Contact NASW, Office of Ethics and Professional Review, 1-800-638-8799, ext. 256, for instructions. Or go to: http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp

    2) If the Social Worker has a license, i.e. LBSW (licensed bachelor social worker), LSW (licensed social worker) or LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), OR if he/she is a government employee as a Social Worker, you may file a complaint through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Contact the Regulated Industries Complaints Office Consumer Resource Center at 587-3222 (menu option #2). To call the Consumer Resource Center from the neighbor islands, dial 274-3141 from Kauai; 984-2400 from Maui; 974-4000 from the Big Island; and 1-800-468-4644 then 73222# from Molokai or Lanai. Or go to: http://www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/rico/forms/ THANK YOU

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    Replies
    1. Yes I plan to. I was wondering is BB planning to only practice in Hawaii?

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    2. good luck! she needs to be reported to the authorities, she has no business being an evaluator

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    3. Thank you! I'm curious to know how has the complaint process been for you!

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  8. I am not sure of that answer, I know she practices in Oregon.

    Myself like many of you had a horrible outcome in my child custody evaluation done by Billie Bell. How does this person call herself a professional? As with many of you, she took no time to review the material that I presented to her. It was as if she already knew what her decision was going to be, before I even met with her. How can she have so many opinions about my character as a Father when she spent no more than an hour of her time with me. It appears Billie Bell is pro Mother's, no matter what you present to her.

    More important, what about the attorney's that refer us to her, then charge us more money to have to fight for our rights? Maybe there is more here to look at. Is this just a way for everyone to make money at our expense.

    I am so glad to hear that some of you are filing a complaint, as I intend to do the same.

    This woman is a joke, how has she managed for so long to get away with these biased evaluations. how can she look at herself knowing she has cost a parent their God given rights where their children are concerned?

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  9. The Oregon Lawyer Bill Valent consistently uses her as well as Nancy Ross Bakker another evaluator w significant complaints. Im trying to find documented complaints online against Billie Bell as Valent is proposing her as the Child Evaluator in our case.

    Valent has alot of complaints himself (http://www.lawyerratingz.com/ratings/1024231/Lawyer+William-Valent.html). Sadly it seems these poor examples of the law stick together.

    Does anyone know where to find complaints against LCSW licensed evaluators?

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    1. I hope you get this link and file a complaint. Billie Bell is horrible; she takes payoffs from lawyers to tip the scale of justice.

      https://www.oregon.gov/blsw/Pages/consumer.aspx

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  10. There is simply no way to choose your evaluator...
    Nice thought, though.

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  11. We used Billie Bell in our case and she was great. She was direct and to the point. She requested information and we made sure she had what she needed. She was not warm and friendly, nor was she rude and disrespectful. She completed her part in a timely fashion. Ms. Bell had recommended that my husband have sole custody. Thanks to her report my husband was able to secure the custody arrangement he thought was fair.

    Also, if you want to find out if an LCSW has been disciplined, you can do so through the state licensing board. It's public information.

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    1. You won because the lawyer paid Ms Bell an extra amount of money for a favored evaluation.

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    2. If this is the case, I would be interested to hear more. Join me on discord and lets talk. https://discord.gg/VnKBJur

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  12. What's amazing about the entire story, is that I went through the exact same situation with another evaluator. Although I think his evaluation was correct, for the most part, there were some issues of self bias that the evaluator included. Such as, because I am a very confident father that has raised my three older children (I recieved custody 17 years ago)and helped focus over 600 children as a youth leader, Clinical results of my personality type say that I may lose control when agitated. This suggestion is completely wrong. The evaluator suggested that the mother get legal custody but that we share visitation 50/50. What will happen in court is yet to be seen, but I will say that the process was a ton of he said/she said and I felt like I was constantly gathering what I called "hard evidence" to prove myself. Unfortunately, hard evidence is not photo's & written statements from fantastic people. What I found is that the clinical responses from testing had more bearing on the outcome.

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  13. We had a similar experience with Billie Bell, who was rescommended by our attorney and the other party's attorney. Our sessions with her were around Christmas time and I remember her saying she would be in Hawaii during the holidays...she said she had a house in Maui. Must be nice. I really think she is being paid by the one with the most money to settle matters. And in our case it was not us. And yes, she didn't even read our personal recommendations from friends, family etc. We had almost 10, the other person had NONE. I might look into reporting her, send for the forms to do that. It can't hurt and maybe it will put her out of business. She is definitely NOT a people person and in my opinion, crooked.

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  14. Hi -

    I'm actually a Mother who Billie Bell helped to destroy. I know that this site is mainly for men, but I just wanted to let you know some of my story. I'm from Oregon, and I heard through my lawyer that she'd help my case with my ex. I left our home with our two children for domestic violence reasons in 2006. I received sole custody of our children. We were diagnosed with PTSD from the abuse. The kids counselor ended up calling child welfare on my ex in 2009. He took me to court over 15 times from our divorce in 2007 to 2010. I finally had to go pro se in Nov 2010 after $160,000 in legal bills. OJIN has my ex down for over 200 incidents. I basically just tried to hide from him.

    I was told by my my lawyer in 2008 that we should get BB because it would keep my ex in line. On my second visit she starts talking about my "Nervous breakdown." I just looked at her and said,"I've never had one." She said,"Yes you did, it's right here in the notes that I took from you last time." The scary thing is that my ex was the one who went around telling all the professionals, the court, etc. that I had one. She swore that I was the one who gave her that info.

    BB completely changed our parenting plan around to help my ex out. I come to find out when she made all of these changes to our p. plan, she never had a single one of our court papers. She had no idea why the judge had carefully setup our p. plan with safety guards because of my ex's behavior. She did this type of stuff continually. She's the crux of our case. She is the ONLY card that my ex has ever had because he knows that he has absolutely nothing on me.

    I don't know if it's because he's a firefighter or what. Like everyone else has said, BB definitely had her mind made up from the start. I've already filed a complaint against her to her state board. It was a total joke. The board says that the complaint process takes 120 days to complete, but they can do a 30 day extension. Try almost A YEAR AND A HALF. I was told that she done nothing wrong. I asked the board for a copy of all the records they had on our complaint under the Freedom of Info. Act. I was sent a letter from them saying that they could do this if the records were found by their lawyer to be non exempt. I would have to pay $813 up front before they would even start the process, they said. It was going to take someone to copy everything, their lawyer to look through everything, etc and whatever other bogus crap they could come up with. I was so angry! I went to their next board meeting and asked for a waiver so I didn't have to pay the money. The board reluctantly gave it to me. I still had the hurdle of whether they'd let me see all the records. In the end, again it was a joke. The only records from the entire complaint I received were the ones that I sent to the board initially. I then wrote to the Atty General because you can ask them to decide if they can make these records non exempt. They also refused. I will continue writing letters and then I am going to the media.

    What I find interesting is that all these court players know each other. It took me a couple of years to figure this all out. I find that the evaluators know the counselors who know the p. coordinators. It's a cash cow. Do file complaints, Do make noise, Do hold her responsible.

    Marie

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  15. I forget the most important part! With her help, my ex gained custody of our two children who were scared of him. It was the most traumatic time in my kids and my life. That was in Nov. 2010. Coincidentally, I had always kept custody throughout all of his bogus court cases. It wasn't until I was forced to go pro se that he finally won. BB is a malignant tumor in society.

    Marie

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    1. Like!!! Like!!! Like!!!

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  16. Not all those who seek anger management evaluations are required to do so. In some cases, an individual may wish to have an assessment if it may prove to be valuable in certain legal circumstances such as custody battles or divorce proceedings.
    Anger Management Evaluations Denver

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  17. Reading all of your comments I realize most of you are dads but this happens to women. I am in a totally different state with an LDS judge who favors men over women. My exhusband has continued to lie and a custody evaluator and guardian ad litum can't seem to even call the therapists or talk to one of the two psychologists that have evaluated my special needs son. I don't know what to say. I have been battling this for almost three years and it's ten years until my youngest is an adult.

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  18. A very interesting read and a great post alltogether. thanks for sharing this information.

    Divorce Lawyer

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    1. Hey Attorney. Where do you practice? Is there a way to get ahold of you?

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  19. Has she been charged with malpractice yet? this woman gave a ex-husband sole custody even though I gave her COURT EVEDINCE he has a anger problem showing he hits and choked me. drunk driving and leaving open beer and chew spit in our young sons reach as well as unlocked guns. all this and many journals she never even looked at. she gave my ex sole custody and didn't even ask for him to take anger management. I have letters from people he and his family have burned by nasty lies and scams.. this woman still believed them and treated me THE MOTHER like dirt she never actually talked about things that matter like how long we lived at our house what our plans for the future are...my ex kick me and the kids out so he could move his new girlfriend (now ex ex gf) in. I have remarried a wonderfull man who never even raises his voice and we have a VERY stable life. he has moved 5 times in 2 years. she though I was the unstable one she even wrote that in. now my ex still acts like he owns me cause he can tell the doctors I cant fill out paper work and he can change our sons school every two months with out consulting me, billie bell needs to do jail time for the lives she has deeply hurt!

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    1. Amen -- preaching to the choir! What court jurisdiction are you in? File a complaint to whoever sits in charge of a guardian ad litem committee in your district or state. If they feel you have merit, it'll be considered a grievance. Don't worry I will let you know how my complaint goes against her for sure.

      Preying on the weak. No different then the people you call abusive. Get a grip BB come back down to earth please because you think you're so self righteous and definitely give yourself more credit then deserved. She thinks she's a Dr. with a PhD but she is not.

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    2. How is your complaint going? I know someone who would be interested in joining any group legal effort against Ms. Bell, including litigation (if only the lawyers in this state weren't all terrified of her... What's she got on them, anyway?)

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    3. is there a way to get ahold of you so we can work together on something? I am the one who wrote the comment on 01/20/15 @ 1:41 am. This way we can collaborate together as far as litigation against her lying and biased self.

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    4. I would also join any group to complain against Billie Bell. She is a liar.

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    5. Hey I made a group for us here at https://discord.gg/VnKBJur so we can try to help each other out.

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  20. We need to flood the media and bring the malpractice public. copy and paste all these stories and send them to katu they love these stories!

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. BB has some personal issues. I believe her lack of love for other people and inablility to handle problems has led to her self-love and admiration that makes her believe she is so right. Her belief in herself makes it easy for judges to side-step their responsibility in custody evaluations. Fathers, mothers and children have received injustice and I believe BB preys on ignorant people who trust the court system. It won't stop until enough people file complaints. Don't be lazy. Love your children, care for other citizens. Protect people from BB.

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  23. Screw Billie Bell! She is the most biased man hater I had ever met. I do have knowledge that she is a lesbian and although I don't have anything against Lesbians, in this case you can tell she is taking out something on the men she deals with. She does have children likely had a bad marriage or something.
    If you have a great job that provides she will encourage the other to take more money or work for the poor person to be in the position to be better off. She must be a democrat. There is a great picture of the President taking Legos from a child with the quote "her little girl because you worked so hard, let me take some of your Legos and give it to the kid who's been sleeping all day." Well...Billie Bell has the same idea.

    To you Ms. Billie Bell...I wish you could learn that whatever hurt has been done to you, these men aren't the enemies or their new spouses. You should learn not to be biased because there are many rags-to-riches and vice versa stories. Keep your opinionated biases out of these sessions and your reports. You're so ignorant to people from Hawai'i especially. Talking about education in the mainland being better - you're nuts and close minded. There is good and bad to everything and all around. She works in court systems where those who hire and recommend her in the court room is the way she will go. Anything for a buck- no different then a prostitute.

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  24. she's not a man hater. if she was, there wouldn't be so many abusive fathers with sole custody in her caseload.

    cummon, ppl, open your eyes. she hates whoever she's paid to hate.

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    1. Okay my eyes are open...on Maui she is liked because she was doing an in service on issues for the court workers and that is where Judge Poelman found his admiration of her. Since then he has HIGH regards for her and all the perjury she commits on that stand. I have seen this Judge take her LCSW opinion then that of an actual DR. with a PhD who had more time and far more qualified. In our case she is not just a man hater - she also hates new spouses so she herself has issues or insecurity and replacement.

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  25. Everyone who has been affected by Billie J Bell should leave a Yelp review. I've heard really terrible things about her.

    Yelp will not recommend your reviews if you sign up just to review her, but people will be able to read them. You're more likely to get a review published to her business page if you review some other businesses, too.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/billie-j-bell-msw-lcsw-portland

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  26. BB is a garbage bottom feeder mediator. I won full custody in another state after my ex wife lost all visitation due to drugs and alcohol. After many months and my ex wife relocating back to where we moved from, we went to court all over again. BB decided NOT to read any court orders or documents from the State my ex lost custody in and instead wrote her report in favor of my ex. BB felt it was necessary to have a 1 on 1 conversation with my 2 year old child at that time. She is a horrible evaluator who has caused many problems in this divorce. Not Iam back in court all over again because my ex is on heroin all over again with custody of our child.

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  27. BB is still at it. In an effort to help the people here stay in touch and help deal with her, I made a discord server for us to share resources and stay in touch. Join up at https://discord.gg/VnKBJur

    ReplyDelete