|My child custody case went to Dr. Mann and I was very nervous after reading the reviews here and elsewhere. Nevertheless, I decided that I would be as honest and forthright as I could at every step of the process and hope for the best. For almost two years, my ex had been refusing to let me see my kids more than one weekend per month and would only let me speak to them between visits on my ex's cell phone. My ex filed in court and gave to Dr. Mann hundreds of pages of declarations making the most horrible allegations against me of everything from sex addiction to bipolar disease to alcoholism. None of the allegations were true but those kinds of allegations are often enough to freak out judges and evaluators. I guess nobody wants to be the one holding the bag if they turn out to be true.|
Dr. Mann tested us both (MMPI and parenting tests), interviewed us separately, interviewed us separately with the children and together. He had two meetings with our children and had my ex bring them to one and me bring them to the other so that he could see, among other things, if the children were being coached by my ex (or by me for that matter). The MMPI is a really weird test but I figured the best way to go was to answer as honestly as I possibly could even when I thought the answers might not reflect well on me.
His office manager is friendly. Dr. Mann himself is a bit quirky though no more than any other mental health professional I've ever met. He is friendly but definitely maintains distance. He pulled no punches with me which made me uncomfortable at times, though I did get legitimate insights about myself from some of his comments to me.
In joint sessions with my ex, he was definitely more sensitive toward my ex and my ex's allegations than he seemed to be with me which made me uncomfortable at times. On a couple of occasions I felt that he called me out on some really minor issues while tiptoeing around my ex's issues. On at least one occasion I walked out thinking that he was going to go my ex's way. In retrospect, however, I think he knew that my ex would not accept straight forward contradiction or criticism and would not accept any recommendation he might make if my ex felt that my ex's allegations were not fully heard and considered. In other words, he created some theatre for my ex at my short term expense in an effort to keep my ex on board and ultimately more likely to accept his recommendations.
Dr. Mann personally interviewed everyone who could support or refute the allegations my ex made, including indirectly asking the children in several ways on several occasions. He also addressed more and more directly with time my ex's issues with my ex and over time got my ex to agree that my ex might be part of the problem.
Finally, he prepared a detailed report that included a detailed description of the allegations, the results of his investigation regarding the allegations and my ex's own issues. His recommendations were different from what my ex or I wanted but which were reasonable and fair.
After my ex and I went over the report with our respective attorneys, we agreed to accept the recommendation which was essentially 50-50 alternating weeks (Dr. Mann doesn't think in terms of percentages but I know that if you're reading this review it's what you really want to know).
Since that time our once intractably bitter relationship has become quite cooperative. We are now able to communicate regularly and, although we have differing views and parenting styles in a variety of areas, we are able to compromise to present a united front to keep the children from manipulating each of us by playing us off against each other. The children are happier, are noticeably less stressed and are doing better in school and in life.
I certainly can't speak to the experiences of others but I can make the obvious observation that most people who bother to post reviews are those that are unhappy with the outcome of the process. While the outcome in my case was not exactly what I, my ex or our even our kids wanted, the outcome does seem to be in the best interests of the children which is, after all, the point of the entire exercise.
He did charge us more than the original estimate and he did send us a final bill that was beyond even his revised estimate. All in all, however, if we had gone to him in the beginning, we could have paid him double what he charged us and still saved a ton of money in attorneys's fees.
One last thing. In the other reviews I noted that some people have commented that Dr. Mann thinks he is judge, jury and/or God and that whatever he says goes. In my case he was very clear that his recommendation usually carried significant weight but was not always followed by the court which I felt to be an accurate assessment of the effect of his recommendations.
All in all, I'd have to say that I would highly recommend Dr. Mann to anyone who is open to putting aside their own issues and focusing on their kids. The really tragic thing is that California law is designed to create custody conflicts and destroy children and families by awarding money in the form of support to one parent based on the amount of time that that parent can keep the children away from the other parent. I am certain and without doubt that if support were simply based on the number of children and the parties' relative incomes without regarding to custody time share the number of custody battles would be reduced by 90%, resulting in healthier, happier children of divorced parents. But that's another issue for another forum.