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FamilyAttorney, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1503
Experience:  Owner, attorney in private practice, appellate attorney, GAL & former trial lawyer, licensed for 37 years
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Grandchildren 7 & 9, removed from family home 9-9-15 for no

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Grandchildren 7 & 9, removed from family home 9-9-15 for no apparent reason- came back as inconclusive evidence. The parents had1 visitation in May -17, told their parental rights are gone. I as grandparent, no visitation. CPS was going to set me u p with SKYPE- never happened! I had a lawyer all ready to help us- says our case is on the famous "BLACKList" which is veryprevalent in Berrien County but I do not have the $3,000 now- am waiting for a medical botched knee surgeries (2) settlement to come through soon. As far as I can remember, there was no cou r t order to remove them and no papers signed papers about their rights. The boy, now 8, is severely autistic- does 't speak; the girl is 9 1/2 and is somewhat autistic. They've been in Caro, ichigan in foster care. Our family life was next to perfect and now on mostly all the reports on the girl she is written up as a mentally deranged child! Yes, she is rebellious because she is away from us and the wonderful life she and he had. They are now on the adoption list and I know that can't happen with this wrongly tried case. The parents paid early on $3,000 to a lawyer who just virtually took the money and ran! So if you know of any way we can get help or perhaps you may know someone who can, please help us before it's too late!

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer. I’m a licensed attorney with 37 years’ extensive experience in family law, trials, appeals, contracts, landlord-tenant, and other types of law.

This is general information and not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed, and no attorney-client relationship is formed. This is for educational purposes only.

Also, I’d like to review your question for a minute and type your answer. If I am not here for a few minutes, that means I am typing your answer. THIS IS NOT YOUR ANSWER YET so please allow me time to type it up for you. It may take a few minutes, so please understand that. Thanks!

I'm so sorry to hear this. This sounds like an absolute nightmare and you need help right away.

You can first file a grievance against your first lawyer and also see if you can get some of your money back. I don't know if that will happen but you can certainly ask for that. You can file a grievance in MI here: and

In the meantime, you need legal help right away. Your $3000 that the new lawyer would cost -- have you tried to see if you can get someone from Legal Aid to do this for you? I don't know if you are quoting a fee of a private lawyer or Legal Aid, but that might be something to consider. This case is all wrong from start to finish, and I am so sorry. I'd like to say I'm stunned, but I have heard of cases where parents have lost rights and haven't known about it. It's rare, but it does happen.

Please let me know the current status of the new attorney you want to get -- is it a private attorney or legal aid? -- and if you want me to look up legal aid societies I can do that for you.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The fee I quoted was of a private attorney Blake Johnson- St. Joseph, Mi. I tried to use Legal Aid Services- all I kept hearing was "You need to get alawyer" and here I am. The children's parents are truly devastated and seem to have given up. I have to keep on trying- my 2 grandchildren mean more to me than life and I am 71 1/2- don't know how long I'll last. Would filing the grievance make it any worse for the case? We certainly don't need any more problems! I anxiously await your response. And by the way, the first lawyer is Mr. Mais- St. Joseph, Mi. He's private practice as well.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Would prefer, at least for the time being, communicate with you this way since from time to time I have home health care come here every so often- so I don't want just everyone to know my problems.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Both parents work full time and I'm not real clear on this but they both pay quite a bit of money monthly towards back child support. I hear them talk about the good sized amount they have remaining, like about 3-5,000 dollars. I don't understand this at all. Is this right?

If a request for a phone call comes in, it is from the site, not from me. I will be happy to have a phone call with you but only if you want it. If you would like to request a phone call, that’s fine too. There is no pressure and we can stay here if you’d like.

I'm a senior also, and I'm 8 yrs younger than you, so I understand your situation as a lawyer and as a parent.

Filing a grievance on an attorney who did nothing for you the first time and charged you $3,000 to do so only makes good sense. If you file, he may want to bargain with you to drop the complaint against you and refund you some of the money. I've seen that happen before. It doesn't always happen, but sometimes it does. That shouldn't affect anything else.

I am NOT finding a Blake Johnson in St. Joseph Michigan or anywhere in Michigan. Does he work for an out of state law firm? He's not listed as a Michigan attorney. I found other Blake Johnsons but one is a corporate lawyer, another works in Nebraska. Do you have any more informatin on this person?

Albert Mais I found -- only 30% of his practice is family law, 50% is criminal, so I wouldn't have recommended him. I would recommend someone who spends most of their day doing family court work.

There's a Blair Johnson who has 25% of his practice as family law. I would not be selecting him first.

There is a P. Johnson on page 2, who has a misconduct charge against him. I wonder if that's the same person?

There are other family lawyers in St. Joseph and I will list them for you, and I will include my free guide with that. The guide will tell you what to look for in a lawyer and use it with the link I'm sending you here:

St. Joseph family lawyers: 40 family lawyers, which is a decent amount to pick from

Here is my guide:


Here's what to look for and what to avoid.

Avoid: Any red mark next to an attorney's name, such as misconduct. That usually means the lawyer was either disbarred, censured, cited for misconduct, or suspended from the practice of law.

Ignore: Ratings, such as 6.5 or 10, which is the highest. A 6.5 attorney may be even better than a 10. It's difficult to say. The site has its own formula for rating attorneys and many attorneys get a 10 because they belong to bar associations and sometimes give lectures. That does not necessarily mean they're the best when it comes to going to court.

Remember: People who charge the most aren’t necessarily the best! I know people who charged twice as much as I did and I have won cases against them easily in court. Don’t be fooled by price.

What to look for: See what the clients’ reviews state, especially in the field that you're interested in (i.e. family law, wills, custody, guardianship, etc.). That is probably going to be the most important thing. Many people have not been reviewed, but if there are a bunch of them who are, go with the ones who have multiple reviews and whose reviews are outstanding. You don't want someone who is a family lawyer but who has been rated as an excellent criminal lawyer. That won't help you. You want them rated as an excellent family lawyer if that's what you're looking for.

I would also suggest you find someone who has been practicing at least 10 years, the more the better(15-20 is even better). The site will tell you how long they're practicing law. You don't want someone just a few years out of law school to take on your tough case.

If there are hundreds of lawyers on the link I’m sending to you, you don’t have to review all of them. Just look at the first few “pages” and that will be enough. Don’t make yourself crazy looking at all of the lawyers there.

Extra suggestion:

I also suggest that you find someone who does primarily family law – if that’s what you’re looking for – or any other type of law you are looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a family lawyer (or any other type of lawyer), the site I am sending you to shows what percentage of the lawyer’s business is family law (or the other type of law you are looking for). If you want a family lawyer, you should find someone who does mostly family law cases – at least 50% -- or exclusively family law cases (100%). I am an appellate attorney who does family law cases, and I do appeals exclusively now. I list myself as doing appeals for 85% of my practice, and I show that the appeals are for family law, custody and child abuse. Someone looking for a family law appellate attorney would know that that’s what I do. So consider the percentage of work they do in the area of law that you want. If it’s 20% or something similar, and they do several types of law, you should find another lawyer. Find someone who spends most of his or her time doing the type of law you want to hire them for.

Take Action: Take a few names and make some phone calls. Ask for a free consultation -- see if you can get one. If you don't feel confident in the lawyer, find another one. That's why it's good to make a list of the ones you want, maybe 5-6 lawyers and you'll find one. It’s okay to walk out of a lawyer’s office and don’t sign anything if you’re not comfortable with the lawyer. You usually want an aggressive lawyer to help you and someone who will return phone calls.

If you can take someone with you to interview the lawyer, that would be a good idea. It’s always good to have another opinion.

You can always fire a lawyer if you're not happy but once the case is underway, you may need court permission to do so, so make sure you like the lawyer!

I'd have to get more information from you to understand why they are paying child support and to whom, but generally speaking, when someone is paying child support, almost every state in the country tacks on interest and it's a LOT, if there's back child support/arrears. The interest adds up so fast that $3,000-$5,000 is not a lot, believe it or not. I worked in one state's office and I saw people who owed $100,000 in arrears and a large percentage of that was interest.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with. That includes looking for lawyers. I’m happy to do so! I’m here most of the time (usually at night!) so you can always come back and talk to me (no extra charge) after I’m rated. If I’m not here, I will get an email if you leave me a question.

Please accept my answer, and please rate my answer as one of the top three faces/stars (5, 4 or 3 stars, 5 stars would be much appreciated as I ALWAYS strive to give you 5 star service!). This can be found AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you and with your question. I work hard to give you a thorough and honest answer. Please let me know if there is more that I can do to answer your question and if you need more information such as where to find lawyers. If not, I thank you for your rating. I can’t get credit for answering your question without your fair and honest rating. I have given you the benefit of my legal knowledge and 37 years of experience as well as my time.

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FamilyAttorney and 4 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Just refound your question a out the children's parents paying back due child suppo r t. It is paid bi-weekly to the court, but I do not't know which one.