by Virginia McCullough

Contra Costa County appoints both professional and non-professional child visitation supervisors to "protect" a child from their own parents.  Anyone can become a child visitation supervisor by "qualifying" through the county and being appointed by the Family Law Commissioners and/or judges.  The County does very little in the way of background checks on these "supervisors" to assure that they are drug free, morally upstanding, and/or free of communicable diseases to assure the safety of the child forced to endure their presence.  The parents are intimidated by the courts and the court appointed "experts".  Mom and Dad feel that they must bend to the will of the court or they will be stripped of all contact with their child.

The custody dispute they are involved in forces parents to play in the Family Law Courts' ballpark.  Families who enter this domain no longer appear to have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with their children.  As long as the court and its money making mercenaries can keep mom and dad at each other's throats, the conspirators are assured they will continue to be paid.  All the while the child suffers, isolated from its mother or father.  The Child Visitation Supervisor is always present acting as a wall between the child and its parent.  The child also knows that he or she must not speak with the visiting parent about the most hurtful thing they are experiencing - the fact that the visiting parent and the child cannot talk about the on going custody battle and the emotional destruction it has brought to the two of them.  Both the monitored parent and the prisoner child realize they are under the constant spying eye of the visitation supervisor.  That supervisor will report everything that happens during the visit to the child's therapist, the custody evaluator, the psychologist and eventually the court that will dictate the innocent's destiny.

All child custody cases that end up in the family law courts of Contra Costa County will affect the lives of the family members involved.  The courts hold the parents and child hostage until the participants in the million dollar industry have drained the litigants of every dollar and every bit of compassion the family once possessed. The individuals will experience negative financial and emotional impacts that will last a lifetime.

Regardless of the damage inflicted on the parents or the children, the arrogant commissioners and judges NEVER admit or correct their mistakes.

The clearest example of this statement involves Joyce Welsh and Brian Tippie, parents of a beautiful eight-year-old daughter.  The case No. D05-00622 is filed in the civil section and is unavailable to the public because, while the couple was together eleven years, they never married.  Custody disputes involving unmarried parents are "paternity or high conflict" files and cannot be accessed in the clerks' office by anyone but the two parties involved.  If the high profile case is resolved fairly by the family law court and its court appointed "experts", these cases are seldom covered by the press.

Egregious reports are often submitted that result in immoral decisions being made by commissioners and judges.  If nothing is done to correct the destruction left in the court's wake then damaged parents and children seek out the media as their court of last resort.  It is at this juncture that the veil of secrecy falls and the dirty practices that take place behind closed doors are exposed.  The abused and beaten parents seek out the wisdom of the average American to gain reassurance that what they have experienced is unconstitutional and un- American.  They cannot believe that their child or children have been used as a battering ram to enrich aloof "professionals" endorsed by arrogant court officials.  They desperately hope that they can still protect their child by appealing to the court of public opinion, having utterly failed in the courts of "equity" and "justice".

The love story of Joyce Welsh and Brian Tippie was typical of many modern American couples.  Joyce was 31-years-old, a newly separated mother of three small children.  Her youngest child was 6-months-old, her two girls were 1 1/2 and 8 years of age.  Joyce and her former husband settled the custody and visitation decisions regarding their children and they determined that both parents would remain an integral part of their children's lives.  The Family Law Courts approved these agreements.  Months later Joyce met 19 year old Brian Tippie through an internet chat room.  Joyce had just moved her family from a small two bedroom apartment to a large four bedroom home.  Joyce was employed for the Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department and she had agreed to upgrade the rental home and yard in exchange for a relatively low rent.  It was at this point that Brian, unhappy living with his mother, approached Joyce asking to live with her and the children.  He was attending a community college and had aspirations of completing his education and becoming a graphics designer.  Brian moved in and in 1998 Joyce became pregnant with their daughter.

That same year, mom, dad and four children moved to an apartment in Martinez. California.  Brian was now a college graduate and secured a job as a graphic designer in San Francisco.  Joyce worked full time until laid off in her fifth month of pregnancy.  She continued to volunteer at her children's school and cared for her growing family. In 1999 they purchased a home together and took title as joint owners.  They seemed to be a happy couple.

According to Joyce, Brian began to spend longer hours in San Francisco explaining that he needed to unwind after long hours at work.  He would join co-workers at strip clubs in the city and would take BART home arriving very late.  Then in 2004 Brian became unhappy with his job and began looking for a new position.  Brian found a French-owned software company specializing in video games that offered him a job in August of 2004.  Brian soon told Joyce that he had fallen in love with his new boss, a graphic designer at the same company.

The troubled couple attempted counseling weekly between December 15, 2004 and January 5, 2005.  It failed.  The relationship blew up on January 5th and 6th, 2005 when an argument escalated.  Bitter words were exchanged and, according to Brian, Joyce threatened suicide and disappeared.  Brian, left at home with the children and fearing for Joyce's life, reported her disappearance to the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department.  Joyce said the suicide threat was a plea for understanding, but she sent an email to Brian the next day that stated in part, "my body will not be found" and "this will be my last email."  On January 9, 2005 Joyce returned to their home with her sister and a sheriff's deputy.  At the suggestion of the sheriff, Brian collected his belongings and immediately went to his mother's home.

According to Brian Tippie's handwritten journal entry dated 1/13/05, Joyce called his new place of employment "and told them that I was having an affair with Jenna_____ (his boss). Told my company that she was going to go to the media. Jeff___ (Human Resources for new company) called me in to notify me that Joyce had called."  Apparently, shortly thereafter Brian Tippie's girlfriend Jenna was let go by the company because of its policy against inter-employee liaisons.  Joyce said that Brian expressed great anger about this situation and threatened that she would never again see their daughter.

Joyce said that the Martinez Police Department and Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department advised her to file for a temporary restraining order (TRO). Alleging verbal, emotional and physical abuse, Joyce Welsh obtained a TRO against Brian Tippie (Case no.D-05-00384) on January 21, 2005.  Joyce said that Brian threatened she would lose her car and her home and never see their child again. She also indicated that Brian had "used a knife placed over his wrist and suggested he could commit suicide, it would be so easy."

On January 25, 2005 Brian Tippie consulted with attorney Lisa J. Gilmore (SBN 234760) of the Walnut Creek, California law firm of WHITING, FALLON & ROSS.  According to the law firm's billing statements a retainer of $7,500 was paid.  By February 22, 2005 , the date the first order was signed, billings indicate that $4,496.50 of the retainer had already been spent.

On February 2, 2005 at 2:30 p.m., Brian Tippie and Joyce Welsh attended an orientation meeting regarding the upcoming Mandatory Mediation, required by law, that would take place on February 4, 2005 at 8: 30 a.m.  The mediator was Vicki L. McReynolds, employed by Contra Costa County.

On February 2, 2005, Brian Tippie filed a "Declaration of Restrained Person in Response to Temporary Restraining Order".  This four- page document detailed the history of the relationship and the resulting breakup.  In this paper Brian stated he had never harassed, harmed or threatened to harm Joyce or any of the children in any way.  He also stated that he is concerned that Joyce may be unstable and unable to properly care for the three children at this time. (Joyce's older daughter was now living with her father.)  Brian closed by opposing a permanent restraining order stating that there are no facts or basis on which to continue the restraining order in this case.

The mediation meeting conducted on February 4, 2005 resulted in mom and dad agreeing to share legal rights and physical responsibilities for their daughter.  It was also agreed that the child would live primarily with the mother until such time as the father obtained a permanent residence acceptable to the mother and provided the child with her own bedroom.  It was determined that the father would have visitation on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:15 am until 4:45 pm at the mother's residence.  Dad will also visit child between 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights.  Once the father obtained a permanent residence that parents will alternate weeks caring for their daughter with the parent not having custody that week allowed to visit the child on Wednesday nights from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 pm.

The McReynolds' mediation also stipulated that the parents would agree to the following three items:

1. Parents agree to procure psychotherapeutic counseling for child, consult and cooperate with the counselor, and participate in the treatment by the counselor.

2. Parents agree to enroll themselves and their child in the appropriate Kid's Turn educational programs and complete these programs.

3. Parents agree to participate in at least three sessions of co-parenting counseling in the next three months with a qualified mental health professional and agree to seek this counseling in the future if they cannot agree on a parenting plan.

Finally, on page 2, paragraph 10 it is noted that the child will be permitted to contact either parent at any time.

Joyce and Brian have now entered the ball park of the Family Law Courts and they will be forced to play the game by the court's rules.  The two parents will no longer have the right to determine what "is in the best interest of their child."  Now the men and women in long black robes will usurp the rights of the natural parents.  The court and its con-conspirators will dictate who will win and who will lose the ultimate prize - the child.

The case was assigned to Commissioner Josanna Berkow who issued an order and dated February 22, 2005.  However this five-page document is not stamped filed until ten days later on March 7, 2005.  The first page indicates that Joyce Welsh appears Pro Per and Brian Tippie is represented by attorney Lisa J. Gilmore.  At this juncture Commissioner Berkow is fully aware that the father is represented by a well known law firm that specializes in Family Law.  This means that the father has sufficient funds to retain the firm and the firm is well aware of the intricacies of the Family Law Courts.  The mother, on the other hand, appears in pro per indicating that she cannot afford counsel and will be ill equipped to cope with the countless legal papers she will be receiving.  It is also apparent that mom is unfamiliar with the local rules of the court and the limitations required to timely file documents required by the court.

In fact, the commissioner's knowledge is reflected in her order cited, in part, below:

Pg 2, Paragraph 7a Petitioner's request for a Restraining Order against Respondent (Brian) is denied and the Temporary Restraining Order issued on 1/21/05 is removed and cancelled for lack of sufficient facts.

Pg 2, Paragraph 7b The Temporary Restraining Order action (case number D-C5-00384) is consolidated with the paternity action. The master file will be D-05-00622.

Pg 2, Paragraph 7c Paternity adjudicated. Respondent stipulated as to advisement and waiver of rights.

Pg 2, Paragraph 7d The court appointed Dr. Karen Hobbs as custody evaluator under Evidence Code 730, to assess the mental health of the parties with respect to suicide threats. Psychological testing only as the evaluator deems necessary. Respondent is to advance the fee, estimated to be $4,500.00, subject to reallocation by the court. Dr. Hobb's Report is due 5/02/05. Recommendation conference scheduled for 5/13/05 at 5:00 am.

Pg 2, Paragraph 7e The Family Court Services mediation report dated 2/4/05 was disapproved and temporary custody and visitation orders made (see attached form FL-341). (Which states joint legal and physical custody with week on/week off schedule)

Pg 2, Paragraph 7f Neither party is to make disparaging remarks about the other parent, their friends or relatives or discuss any issue under litigation within hearing range of the minor child.

Pg 2, Paragraph 7g Petitioner is to give Respondent's pellet gun to Respondent's attorney for safe keeping. Respondent may retrieve personal belongings from the residence at 1101 Sante Fe (Martinez).

Pg 2, Paragraph 7h The issue of child support is reserved pending hearing on March 29, 2005 at 9:00 a.m.

Particular attention should be given to Pg. 2, Paragraphgraph 7d which appoints Dr. Karen Hobbs to be the "custody evaluator" to assess the mental health of the parties with respect to suicide threats in accordance with Evidence Code 730.  It is also noted that psychological testing "only as the evaluator deems necessary".  Respondent Brian Tippie is also ordered to advance the fee, estimated to be $4,500 subject to reallocation by the court.  In other words, the court can change its mind on who might ultimately have to pay this fee.  However, at this moment in time, Brian Tippie will pay Dr. Karen Hobbs $4,500 to determine if mom Joyce Welsh has a mental problem and to generate a report that will carry great weight with the court in deciding which parent will have permanent custody of the child.  In a minute order signed on March 29, 2005, Commissioner Berkow "clarifies the 2-9-05 order: Father to advance cost for the custody evaluation and for 'psyche' testing for mother".  Additionally (Department of Child Support Services) DCSS to prepare the support portion of the Order after Hearing. Counsel Gilmore to prepare the custody portion of the Order after Hearing.

The cost to Brian Tippie now reaches $8,996.50 between the dates of January 25, 2005 and February 22, 2005.  The game played in the Family Law Courts can seldom be effectively played by a single parent trying to feed her other children and keep a roof over their heads.  That fact does not mean that the mom loves the child at risk any less then the others.  But it becomes increasingly obvious that the court is already seeking to place the child with the parent who can afford to support the court's "expert" associates.  The best interest of the child now equals dollars spent.

On April 19, 2005 the Center for Human Development Conflict Resolution Panel Resolution Agreement (Case #11332) was signed by Joyce, Brian, and the mediators from the Conflict Resolution Panel.  It reads as follows:

" The items listed on the attached page and stored at 1101 Sante Fe Avenue, Martinez shall be divided accordingly.  It was agreed that the Saturn Wagon will go to Joyce Welsh and the Honda Pilot will go to Brian Tippie.  Joyce Welsh will sign over Stratton Account to Brian Tippie.  Joyce Welsh will refinance house under her name with escrow instructions that joint loan will be paid off. $8400 will be held in escrow to pay repairs to the house: porch, ceiling and door frame.  Net to be split between Joyce and Brian.  Balance of bank accounts and Vanguard money market fund is split between Joyce and Brian plus an equalizing payment of $1500 to be paid by Joyce to Brian.  Brian will close accounts.  Brian will obtain three names of professional therapists from his insurance carrier.  The people whose signatures appear below agree that this written resolution agreement is enforceable at law and is admissible as evidence in court or an administration proceeding.  Belongings will by moved by May 13, 2005.

Amazingly, this agreement between the two parents, reached without help and/or interference by the Family Law Courts and its highly paid consultants, is straight forward and unique.  The mediators and the two individuals covered a lot of disputes and resolved them on one sheet of paper.  Nothing in this case would ever be this simple again.

It was about to become VERY complicated.  The mom would discover something within the next two months that would turn this case on its ear.  If the mother told the dirty secret that she would discover, then she would expose just how morally bankrupt the co- conspirators involved really were.  But if she was on psychotropic medication and under the control of a psychologist and/or psychiatrist, no one would believe the horrendous truth she uncovered.

On May 13, 2005, Karen Hobbs, Ph.D., an associate of the Family Resolution Center, and the court appointed custody evaluator in this case, issued her long anticipated report.  Hobbs states in her first paragraph that the focused evaluation was implemented  "to determine if either parent suffered from any mental disturbance".  Hobbs also clearly states Brian Tippie's desire to have "primary custody of _____ (their daughter) because he believes that Ms. Welsh is mentally unstable at present."

On page 3 of this report the affair with Brian's boss is discussed and "Mr. Tippie denies that he was having an affair". This denial does not ring true, however, in light of the email record sent to Joyce Welsh dated Sat. 08 Jan 2005 19:01:03 from [email protected] and signed by Jenna which reads in part:

...............I also wanted to let you know that I talked to Brian last night and I told him that I can no longer see him in a romantic way.  I understand that my involvement with him is only making things more difficult for you and I do not wish to hurt you.  I am sorry that I hurt you so much before. When I went into this relationship with Brian, I did not understand how difficult it would be for you.  I love Brian and I would love more than anything for the two of us to be together, but not at the expense of your life..................... So I hope you will read this and understand that I do care about you and that is why I have decided to let Brian go.  If we are meant to be, then one day we will be together.  I will let time run its course and see where it leads us.  Warmest regards, Jenna

Despite this admission from Jenna, Mr. Tippie admitted to Karen Hobbs on page 9 that he "did have a friendship with a woman at _____(work) named Jenna, and she was his boss, although he said she was in a group of people he was friends with.  Mr. Tippie said he was not unfaithful to Ms. Welsh."  Later on page 10 it is stated that "upon her return, Ms. Welsh began writing harassing letters to Mr. Tippie's friend Jenna and she sent these letters out to everyone in the company.  Mr. Tippie's friend Jenna was then fired after having worked for the company for 3.5 years."

On page 7 of the Hobbs' report its states that Dr. Thomas McCord (an associate of Karen Hobbs), who did the psychological testing, had difficulty getting Ms. Welsh to complete her testing.  It took repeated efforts to get her in for a final appointment.  On this same page Hobbs reported that in the last phone call she made to Ms. Welsh, Ms. Welsh was very confused and incoherent.

In contrast page 8 of the Hobbs' report contains rave reviews about Brian Tippie.  Hobbs says , "Mr. Tippie presents as a well organized and concerned parent who is mildly insecure".

Pages 12 and 13 of the Karen Hobbs' report are filled with complaints and criticism of Joyce Welsh and her other three children.  These observations apparently occurred during a visit Hobbs made to the Welsh home.  The children were noisy and playing with one another and a pet bunny.  Hobbs was also critical of the teen radio station the kids had on saying it had "songs that used offensive and sexually explicit language".

On the very bottom of page 13, Karen Hobbs first mentions the woman who would soon become the child visitation supervisor for Joyce Welsh and Brian Tippie's child.  In this instance Hobbs identifies the woman as "a friend of both Ms. Welsh and Mr. Tippie".  Hobbs states that this person said both parents love their daughter very much.  The future supervisor also is quoted as saying that she "has met Mr. Tippie's mother and did not think she was the best role model for children."  She said she drinks beer and smokes and does not seem to lead a very productive life.  The future supervisor continued saying she would not want Brian's mother to watch her own children.

On May 19, 2005 the court filed Commissioner Josanna Berkow's Order after Court Recommendation Conference Re Custody and Visitation. The issue had been heard by Josanna Berkow two days earlier on 5/17/05:

Brian present and represented by Gilmore and Joyce pro per.  Based on recommendation of court appointed evaluator, Karen Hobbs, PhD, the court made the following orders.

1. This order replaces the order filed April 14, 2005.

2. Petitioner, Brian Tippie ("Brian") is to have temporary sole physical and legal custody of the parties' minor daughter.

3. Respondent, Joyce Welsh, ("Joyce") is to immediately seek psychiatric treatment and is ordered to schedule an assessment with James Gracer, M.D. (7 Santa Maria Way, Orinda, CA 94563, (925) 253-0567).  Dr. Gracer is to receive a copy of the evaluator's report.

4. Brian is to advance the cost of the initial assessment with Dr. Gracer, estimated to be approximately $300.  The cost of the assessment is subject to reallocation by the court.

5. Joyce is to have eight (8) hours of supervised visitation with ___ each week.  This visitation may take place at Safe Exchange or at child visitation supervisor's home.  The specific days and times are to be worked out between the parties' and the child visitation supervisor.  If child visitation supervisor supervises such visitation, she shall take the Family Court Services training class as soon as she can (to register call (925) 957-7963). If any other personal friend of the parties is to supervise the visitation, such person must first take the Family Court Services course.

6. Brian is to arrange for ___ (daughter) to begin counseling immediately with either Heide Perryman, PhD. (3704 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 319, Lafayette, 94549: (925) 283-4499) or Erika Goldstein, Ph.D. (also 3704 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 319, Lafayette, 94549: (925) 283-4499). Daughter's counselor shall receive a copy of the evaluator's (Karen Hobb's) report.  (Note: Perryman is not covered by Brian's insurance as mentioned by the signed resolution dated 4/19/05).

7. Daughter may spend time, unsupervised, with her paternal grandmother, Nancy Buck.

8. Joyce is ordered to stay away from daughter's school, currently Morello Park Elementary, and day care facility, currently Woodbridge Children's Center, until her treating psychiatrist determines that she is stabilized, at which time she may resume her volunteer activities at the school.

9. Joyce is not to telephone daughter during the time she is not with her.

10. The evaluator will work with Joyce's treating psychiatrist and issue a report that is due August 5, 2005. A hearing will take place on August 12, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 51 to review Joyce's progress and the custody and visitation schedule.

11. A modification of child support is to be calendared to address the change in custody.

The order also stated that both parties stipulated to California jurisdiction and court orders for custody/visitation order herein is Family Code 200, 2010, 3022, 3421, and 3424.

Again, it should be noted that Brian is ordered to pay the initial assessment for Joyce to seek psychiatric treatment from Dr. James Gracer.  The cost was approximately $300 and was subject to reallocation by the court.  It apparently never occurs to the court that to have a man pay for psychiatric treatment for a woman he wants to have declared mentally ill in order to gain permanent custody of their child presents a direct conflict of interest.

To assure that both mother and child are mind controlled, Commissioner Berkow also ordered Brian to arrange "counseling" for the child.  To make certain that the child can only hear the side of the custody dispute promoted by the experts and the court, Commissioner Berkow ordered the mother to stay away from the child's school and day care center and not to telephone her daughter during the time she is not with her.  In other words, all communication between mother and child is now watched over by the newly appointed child visitation supervisor.

The pace of the case now quickens and the following events all occur from May 20, 2005 and June 23, 2005:

Date: 5/20/05 - Claudia Coale, L.C.S.W. non-professional supervisor instructor signed certificate that child visitation supervisor attended "the special orientation class for the non-professional supervisor program and that the date of training was 5-20-05.

Date: 5/22/05 - Supervised Visitation Log filled out and signed by child visitation supervisor stating that Joyce was "Good" and "Excellent". Child "Happy". Visitation takes place at supervisor's home at her address Martinez 94553, Phone No. (925)___-____. Child's date of birth ____ - age 6. Date of visit was 5/22/05.  

Date 5/29/05 - Supervised Visitation Log filled out and signed by child visitation supervisor stating Joyce was "Good" and "Excellent". Child "Happy". Visitation takes place at supervisor's home. Date of visit was 5/29/05.

Date: 6/6/05 - Supervised Visitation Log filled out and signed by child visitation supervisor stating Joyce was "Good" and "Excellent". Child "Happy". Visitation takes place at supervisor's home. Date of visit was 6-5-05.

Date: 6/12/05 - Supervised Visitation Log filled out and signed by child supervision supervisor stating Joyce was "Good" and "Excellent". Child "Happy". Visitation takes place at supervisor's home. Date of visit was 6-12-05.

Date: 6/20/05 - Supervised Visitation Log filled out and signed by child visitation supervisor stating Joyce's "compliance with rules during visit was poor" and nothing filled in for "attitude and spirit of cooperation with supervisee"  All previous visits had written in "Excellent".  The supervisor has always rated custodial parent Brian as "good" and "excellent".  Attached is the following. dated 6/18/05:

Supervised Visitation Log




Despite disapproval/caution from supervisor, Ms. Welsh:

* Repeatedly asked daughter about father's living arrangements and his girlfriend.

* Made disparaging remarks about daughter's father and her (paternal) grandmother.

* Repeatedly asked daughter who she wanted to live with.

* Allowed daughter to paint from a gallon paint can in her good clothing until she was covered in paint.  She refused supervisor's offer to get a large T-shirt or to change her outfit.  The clothes were ruined and Ms. Welsh eventually threw them out.

* Trimmed daughter's bangs despite daughter's initial protestations that her Daddy told her to let her hair grow long.

Signed by child visitation supervisor under her typed signature.

Date: 6/21/05 - Child visitation supervisor types and signed the following note to Lisa Gilmore (925) 296-6001 (FAX number for Whiting, Fallon & Ross law firm)

This is to inform you that I am no longer available to supervise visitation between Ms. Welsh and her daughter. 
I understand that a Professional Supervisor will be sought for their future visitations as soon as possible.

Date: 6/23/05 - Cover page to Karen Hobbs, Ph.D., 376 Colusa, #2, Kensington, CA 94707 re: Tippie v. Welsh, Brian & Joyce. Enclosure(s): Visitation logs from child visitation supervisor, and her notice of withdrawal as supervisor, dated June 2, 2005.  Please review for your information and records.  Prepared and signed by Marlena Noble, Legal Assistant to Lisa J. Gilmore, Esq.

The courts, the "experts"; and the spy known as the child visitation supervisor have now united in an unholy trinity.  Brian Tippie and his attorney, Lisa J. Gilmore must now believe that they have the situation well in hand.  But what do they all know about this person of trust - the child visitation supervisor?  What did they know and when did they know it?

Remember the secret that Joyce Welsh uncovered?  It is about to be revealed and the Family Law Courts' ball park will never be the same.

Virginia McCullough © 3/28/07



by Virginia McCullough