It’s been a long time coming, but finally some family court judges are starting to understand the insidious nature of mothers and fathers who brainwash their children in an effort to prevent a normal parent/child relationship with their estranged spouse.
It is a twisted, selfish parent who would warp a child’s mind only because of their hatred of their former spouse or partner, and it happens much more often that most people realize.
A stark example of the extreme edge of parental alienation was on display in a courtroom in Michigan last month. Judge Lisa Gorcyca of Oakland County, Michigan, presided over yet another hearing in the five-year high conflict custody/access case involving the children of Maya and Omer Tsimhoni, named Roee, Liam, and Natalie, ages 9, 10, and 15.
The Tsimhon’s marriage broke down in 2008 when Mr. Tsimhoni accepted a transfer from his employer, General Motors, to work in Israel where the parties were born and raised, and where both their extended families resided. Mrs. Tsimhoni did not wish to accompany her husband and remained with the children in the United States, filing for divorce and preventing her husband from communicating with the children.
Several months later she changed her mind and the family was reunited making their new home in Israel, that is, until Mrs. Tsimhonages suddenly left Israel, taking the children back to Michigan.
Mr. Tsimhonages returned to Michigan as well, in order to maintain his relationship with his children. But the children’s mother had long been poisoning the children against their father, behaviour that led to June’s court hearing, where Judge Gorcyca held all three children in contempt of court and ordered they be sent to Mandy’s Place at Children’s Village, a youth facility for children under 18 who have been removed from their homes by the court due to neglect, abuse and status offenses.
Children assigned to Mandy’s Place stay there until the Court returns them to their family or foster care, or until they are are placed in a separate live-in program at Children’s Village.
You might be thinking by now: if the children’s mother has alienated them from their father, why punish the children? Shouldn’t it be the alienating parent that is rebuked? Yes, normally that occurs, but a bizarre dialogue took place between each child and Judge Gorcyca. The Court transcript tells the story.
The Court initially ordered Mrs. Tsimhoni to tell her children they must speak to their father and go for lunch with him in the Courthouse cafeteria. Their mother passionately implored them to do so, with no results. Then the Judge spoke directly to each child and their state-appointed lawyer informing each child that they would obey her order or be sent to Children’s Village.
The 15-year old son, on advice from his lawyer, apologized to the Court for defying the order but maintained his refusal saying:
“He’s violent and he—I saw him hit my mom and I’m not going to talk to him.”
Judge Gorcyca responded to the teenager:
“I ordered you to have a healthy relationship with your father, I witnessed your mother at 11:30 tell you very impassionedly that she wants you to talk to your dad, to talk to your dad, that he loves you, that he’s not gonna hurt you, that he’s not gonna hurt her. You are a defiant, contemptuous young man and I’m ordering you to spend the rest of the summer–and we’ll review it when school starts, and you may be going to school there.”
But the boy wasn’t done yet and challenged the Judge by asking wasn’t hitting somebody against the law?
Judge Gorcyca replied:
“I ordered you, I will say this again, and apparently you’re—you’re supposed to have a high IQ, which I’m doubting right now because of the way you act. You’re very defiant, you have no manners. … There is no reason why you do not have a relationship with your father. Your father has never been charged with anything. Your father’s never been convicted of anything. Your father doesn’t have a personal protection order against him. Your father is well-liked and loved by the community, his co-workers, his family [and] his colleagues. You, young man, have got it wrong. I think your father is a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you.”
A less confrontational dialogue unfolded between the Judge and the two younger children who also refused to have any contact with their father. Judge Gorcyca confirmed her order and added additional terms including a no contact or visitation order between mother and children and stipulated that when the children agree to see their father she would review their case.
Mrs. Tsimhoni immediately commenced a media campaign protesting the Judge’s order, an order made over the objections of the children’s father. The media, not surprisingly, excoriated the Judge, alleging a severe character flaw and general incompetence in her job. They weren’t the only ones, as scores of lawyers weighed in on the decision, most of them urging her removal from the bench.
Of course, if the children had been witnesses to spousal violence their refusal could be explained, however, when asked why the children accused him of physically abusing their mother, Mr. Tsimhoni said:
“The one incident that happened was five years ago I had a five-hour unsupervised visit. We were in a park and Maya was circling around the park the whole time, trying to sabotage the visit. Two hours into the visit, the children ended up in her car and she was trying to leave. I tried to prevent her from leaving because it was my time with the children. I was very careful not to do anything but she claimed that I pushed her. She screamed at the children, ‘Call 911! Call 911!’ The police showed up and Maya was screaming and the police confirmed that nothing happened. But in the children’s mind, that’s what happened.”
This story will continue in tomorrow’s edition of Lawdiva.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang