Children 15, 10, and 9 Sent to Juvie for Contempt of Court in Access Case

_DSC4851It’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

Fashion Stylists Say Female Lawyers Lack Pizazz

DSC00507 (2)It was a beautiful day in Vancouver, hot and sunny, and with a little time to spare that day I decided to attend the swearing in ceremony of a newly appointed Court of Appeal judge, taking place at the Courthouse across the street from my office.

As I approached the courtroom I observed a sea of black-suited lawyers and slipped into one of the last remaining seats. As we waited for the proceedings to commence I noticed how many women lawyers were in attendance, more than usual, since the new judge was a well-respected female lower court judge.

Looking around I suddenly felt so out of place. I was wearing a mauve leather swing skirt, a very feminine pink and mauve blouse, and mauve three inch stiletto heels, in stark contrast to my female colleagues who were outfitted in boring black suits, mostly made of polyester, and sensible shoes that resembled oxfords.

After the ceremony an invitation was extended to join the Chief Justice for refreshments. Normally I wouldn’t hesitate to join the fun, but that day I declined, not wanting to “stand out” in the crowd. (That statement may be hard to believe, but true!)

That brings me to a controversial article in a California legal newsletter, The Marin Lawyer, written by fashion stylists Jill Sperber, also a lawyer, and Susan Pereczek, directed at lawyers in Marin County, an affluent area north of San Francisco that boasts the fifth highest income per capita in the United States at over $90,000 per annum.

In their article titled “Beyond Black: Revising the Lawyer Dress Code for Women” the stylists opine that “female lawyers in Marin are not winning their cases in the Style Department”, a statement that has elicited critical cries of blatant sexism.

As part of their investigation Ms. Sperber and Ms. Pereczek spent two mornings at the Marin County Courthouse where in their roles as “fashion police” they saw:

“mostly non-descript black pants (we counted a few skirts) with button downs or blouses in white or muted tones. Some didn’t bother with jackets. Few wore accessories.”

On the list of fashion faux pas they identified a lawyer wearing a burgundy velvet blazer on a spring day, and another in a tight knit striped miniskirt with a mismatched stripe blazer over a neon blouse, and teetering mules. It’s not a pretty picture!

Among their fashion “dos and don’ts” they suggest is a move away from black suits to a more colourful palette. They also urge female lawyers to use accessories to brighten up and polish their professional look.

A light-hearted article with good advice…what’s wrong with that?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Update on Bomb Explosion in Family Lawyer’s Winnipeg Office

La Spiga 2011-03-22Further details have become available with respect to the explosive device mailed via Canada Post to the Winnipeg law office of Marie Mitousis, who suffered the loss of one of her hands and was rushed in critical condition to hospital last week.

Ms. Mitousis acted for Iris Amsel for ten years in a protracted, high conflict divorce proceeding, which began relatively amicably in 2004. The divorce file shows that Guido and Iris divided shares of a company that provided auto repair services. Guido was to pay $500.00 per month in child support for their son, who was nine-years old at the time the parties separated. Eventually, Mr. Amsel purchased Iris Amsel’s one-half interest in the business.

By 2010 the parties were feuding over Mr. Amsel’s allegations that his ex-wife had drained the business of $3 million dollars prior to finalizing their divorce.

In an affidavit sworn by Mr. Amsel in 2010 he said:

“It is my belief at the present time that during our cohabitation, the respondent secreted money to these accounts…
I am fearful that the respondent will transfer funds from these and any other accounts she may have to Germany and thereafter relocate there with the intention of keeping our son there as well.”

He also accused his ex-wife of disposing of his wedding ring in a toilet and trying to break up his second marriage by calling and pretending to be a boyfriend of his new wife, understandably a situation that could cause conflict in his latest marriage.

Guido was outraged by the perceived unfairness of the family justice system and lashed out, sending incendiary devices to an auto repair business with connections to his ex-wife, his lawyer, and the unfortunate Ms. Mitsouis, his ex-wife’s lawyer, who opened the letter.

Police were able to detonate the other explosive devices before anyone else was injured.

In 2010 Iris Amsel filed a lawsuit against her ex-husband in regards to the auto services business they co-owned, and later his wages were garnisheed. I’m guessing that Guido fell into arrears in his child support payments, a typical reaction by a payor parent in a nasty divorce.

Also common in high conflict divorce is the steady escalation of litigation, particularly when Kyle Amsel, the now adult son of the parties, wrote in a 2013 affidavit that his father’s allegations against his mother were not true and had led to the estrangement of father and son.

Later that year Mr. Amsel suggested that Kyle was not his son and demanded a paternity test. The court allowed the test on the basis that Mr. Amsel would pay for it. It is not clear whether the test actually took place or if it did, what the result was.

Guido Amsel remains in custody charged with attempted murder. His act of vengeance is both ruthlessly vile and cowardly.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Winnipeg Family Law Lawyer Critically Injured in Bomb Explosion

IMG_0311 - Version 2Earlier today a bomb exploded at Winnipeg family law firm, Petersen King. The National Post reports that lawyer Maria Mitousis, age 35, is the only victim and has lost a hand in the blast. Other sources suggest she may also lose her other hand. She was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

No other details are available, such as whether the bomb was mailed or couriered to the firm and police are on the scene.

The firm has had its share of misfortune over the past several years. The “King” of Petersen King is lawyer Jack King, the wife of Madam Justice Lori Douglas who became known as Canada’s bondage judge. You may recall it was Mr. King who introduced his wife to a client who complained he was sexually harassed by Justice Douglas and her husband.

A high-profile judicial inquiry of Lori Douglas’ behaviour finally ended with her resignation as a Superior Court judge, but not before the first panel of judges adjudicating Judge Douglas’ future resigned en masse, and inquiry counsel, George McIntosh, now Mr. Justice McIntosh of British Columbia’s Supreme Court, was criticized for his vigorous cross-examination of several witnesses.

Sadly, Mr. King recently died of cancer.

It is reported that victim Ms. Mitousis is in a common-law relationship with Barry Gorlick, a Winnipeg lawyer who was recently disbarred after he admitted to 15 counts of professional misconduct. Gorlick practices at another firm in Winnipeg.

During a discipline panel hearing last fall, he pleaded guilty to 15 counts of misconduct, including failure to serve a client, failure to conduct himself in a courteous manner, breach of duty to act with integrity, and misappropriating client funds.

The misappropriation included the deliberate creation of false documents, as well as misleading his staff and partners. A total of $59,129 of client trust money was diverted for his personal use.

A terrible tragedy that hopefully will result in the speedy arrest of the perpetrator.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Will Your Marriage Survive? Predictors of Divorce

DSC01152_2 (2)_2Social scientists in the United States say that how a couple deals with conflict in their relationship is a good predictor of whether the couple’s marriage will survive.

Dr. John Gottman from the University of Washington and Dr. Robert Levenson from the University of California were able to predict divorce with 93 per cent accuracy in their 14-year study involving 79 couples.

Couples who acted defensively or stonewalled their partner during arguments, or were contemptuous or critical were most likely to see their marriages come to an end. The researchers found that the most dangerous sign of marriage demise was contempt, calling it the “kiss of death” in relationships.

Contempt, according to Professor Gottman indicates a superiority complex. If someone feels smarter, or generally better, than their partner, they are less likely to value their opinions. This makes arguments worse and reconciliation difficult.

However, even relationships characterized by contempt can be salvaged. The key to overcoming relationship pitfalls is that when one partner is upset, the other listens.

The second component of “fair” fights is to be “gentle” when conflict arises. People in successful relationships “don’t bare their fangs and leap in there; they’re very considered”. They develop “repairing skills” so they can deal with issues as they come before moving on.

Professor Gottman has studied relationships for over 40 years. He and his wife founded the Gottman Institute, a relationship therapist training centre, and head a non-profit research organisation called the Relationship Research Institute.

He was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Therapists of the past quarter-century by the Psychotherapy Networker. He is the author of 190 published academic articles and author or co-author of 40 books, including the bestselling The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work; What Makes Love Last; The Relationship Cure; Why Marriages Succeed or Fail; and Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, among many others.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Goldie Hawn’s Ex Accuses Her of Parental Alienation

DSC00280How could you not fall in love with Goldie Hawn? She was the giggly blonde, with her bikini and body paint on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a role that launched her career.

Do you also remember the Hudson Brothers? Bill, Mark and Brett were three very handsome young men who hit the pop charts in the early 70’s and later appeared on their own television show. Their stars were rising at about the same time that Goldie Hawn’s career took off.

Bill and Goldie married in 1976, a marriage that lasted only four years, but produced two talented children, Kate Hudson, age 36, now a famous actress in her own right, and Oliver Hudson, age 38, a model and actor who currently appears in the TV show “Nashville”.

Those of you who keep up to date on celebrity activities know that Ms. Hawn began living with Kurt Russell, a successful child actor who made a small fortune for Walt Disney with his ten-year contract. He has had a prolific Hollywood career since that time.

Celebrity journalists often hinted at a serious rift between Bill Hudson and Goldie Hawn, an uncoupling that has festered over the years, but until this week the extent of their animosity was kept under wraps. That is until Father’s Day 2015 when Bill saw a photo on Instagram that immediately put a damper on what had been a wonderful Father’s Day. His son, Oliver, had posted a heart-warming photo of Bill with Kate and Oliver taken 30 years earlier, two cute toddlers with their handsome father. The caption read:

“Happy Abandonment Day….@katehudson”

The post went viral and thousands of people commented on the good, the bad, and the ugly of absentee fathers. Later, Bill saw that Kate posted a photo of herself alongside Kurt Russell with the caption: “Pa, just simply…thank you. Happy Father’s Day. I love you to the moon and back.”

Bill was devastated by Oliver’s message and angry that Oliver believed Bill had walked away from him and Kate. As Bill’s phone rang off the hook he decided it was time to answer the allegations that he had abandoned his children.

He agreed to sit for an interview with the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail where he got a few things off his chest.

“When we split up, she never had a bad word to say about me. But when Kurt came on the scene, the narrative changed and I became the big, bad wolf. I would say to her “Goldie, why are you trashing me and saying I’m an absent father when it’s simply not the case? and she’d laugh and go “Oh Bill, you know it makes for a better story. I believe the drip, drip, drip of poison which started when they were kids finally took hold. Goldie wanted to create this myth of a perfect family with Kurt and she wanted me out.”

In the interview Bill confirmed that gradually Kate and Oliver rejected their relationship with him, although initially he lived on the beach in Malibu not far from Goldie and was part of the children’s lives for years, including weekends and family holidays. He wrote a letter to his children every week, but now wonders whether they were given the letters. He also takes objection to Kate’s statement that she never even received a birthday card from him. He says that he sent a card every year to each of his children and called them faithfully on every birthday.

Meanwhile in the social media flurry, Oliver responded to one post saying:

“What started out as what I thought as a joke has turned into something more. And I embrace that. I’ve done and continue to do a lot of work on myself to better understand what make me tick. Yes, science links us but love binds us.”

It is hard to say where the truth lies but Bill Hudson’s reply to the allegations rings true to me and is typical of stories of parental alienation I have heard over the years.

He ends his interview saying that Kate and Oliver will no longer be in his life and that if they are that unhappy they should change their last names, a sad and bitter conclusion to many years of hurt and misunderstanding.

Oliver’s suggestion that his post began as a joke is disingenuous and childish coming from a 38-year old man. I’d say he needs to continue “working on himself” and if Bill Hudson’s protestations are true, then Goldie Hawn should be ashamed of her behaviour.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Waiting for Canada’s New Euthanasia Law

GEO_edited-1A perfectly healthy 24-year old woman in Belgium will be killed by her doctors only because she has “suicidal thoughts”. She does not suffer from any terminal disease or physical illness.

While Nazi Germany pioneered legal euthanasia, Switzerland was an early adopter, followed by Columbia in 1997, Holland in 2002 and Belgium in 2003. Belgium’s original law applied only to adults, but in February 2015 they extended the law to include children.

The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail quotes the woman as saying:

‘Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful. I played all my life with these thoughts of suicide, I have also done a few attempts. But then there is someone who needs me, and I don’t want to hurt anyone. That has always stopped me.

Canada, of course, is never far behind when it comes to controversial social justice issues, such as abortion, same-sex marriage, legalized prostitution, and most recently, euthanasia.

In a historic decision this year, (Carter v. Canada) the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that desperately suffering patients have a constitutional right to doctor-assisted suicide, giving the government twelve months to draft legislation.

The criteria established by the Court is that the person must be a consenting adult under a physician’s care, who cannot tolerate the physical or psychological suffering brought on by a severe, incurable illness, disease or disability.

Only last week the government indicated that because of the coming election it will need more time to draft appropriate laws, a situation that will not likely induce sympathy from the high court.

But Belgium’s data on euthanasia will undoubtedly be studied by the government as they shape the new law. Interesting statistics include the following:

1. Euthanasia deaths are increasing year over year. In 2011 there were 1,133 and in 2012 1,432, an increase of 25%. In 2013 1,816 were euthanized, an increase of 27% over 2012.

2. Of the total cases in 2013 51.7% were men, while 48.3% were women.

3. Persons aged between 70 and 90 years accounted for 53.5%, those aged 60 to 70 represented 21% and those over 90, 7%. Persons under 60 made up 15% of the total cases.

Most of Belgium’s euthanasia deaths attract no attention, however, there have been several media-worthy deaths, including the assisted suicides of 45-year-old Belgian twins, Mark and Eddy Verbessem.

The twins were deaf and conversed in sign language and had been told to expect to lose their sight, but there was no indication their condition was “medically futile” or their mental suffering at the prospects of becoming blind, could not be alleviated with appropriate medical treatment. Also recent was the euthanization of a transgendered Belgium man who applied because he was horrified at the way he looked after hormone therapy and surgery.

Whoever forms the next government in Canada will be saddled with the responsibility of crafting a law that allows terminally ill patients to die with dignity, while still ensuring that vulnerable adults are protected, a goal that has apparently eluded the Belgians.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang