Part 2: Alienated Kids Released From Jail

BarristerIn yesterday’s post I described the court hearing in Michigan that led Judge Gorcyca to send three children, ages 15, 10 and 9 to Mandy’s Place, a juvenile detention centre for children under 18.

Many people expressed outrage at her decision. Comments from American lawyers writing in the American Bar Association Journal ran at about 99% against. A few examples:

“Really. Sending kids to jail. This judge has no judgment. She should be removed from office. Clearly she is power mad.”

“If we saw this case on some TV lawyer show, no one would believe it. Yet here it is, in all it’s pathetic grandeur.”

“In loco parentis, with the emphasis on “loco.”

“It is painfully clear these children have already been destroyed. I am often skeptical about parental alienation syndrome even being a thing (and I do
matrimonial law) but this transcript proved it to me. A kid says they would prefer to go to juvie than to eat lunch in the courthouse cafeteria with his father? That is just appalling. And bespeaks some nasty business by mom-who also apparently went off on the judge personally in the past. This is not the insanity it reads like, I’m afraid. There is a back story and it’s ugly.”

The Michigan media later reported that the children spent two weeks at Mandy’s Place, a facility they had been ordered by Judge Gorcyca to tour earlier in March of 2015, an indication that she had the juvie hall in mind months before she made the order. The facility later reported that the children had settled in and were making friends, although they had been kept apart from one another, until their unexpected release earlier this month.

The children’s father and the court appointed guardian ad litem jointly applied for an order that the children be released from Mandy’s Place and be sent to a Jewish summer camp with the costs to be divided equally between the parents.

Judge Gorcyca, previously a prosecutor, granted the order saying:

“While this court’s remedy in this particular situation may seem drastic and offensive, so too, is the notion … that the only way to maintain a stable and loving connection with the mother is to vilify and reject the father.”

While Judge Gorcyca’s initial order may have been draconian, my twenty-seven years of experience provides me with a perspective that is less critical and more understanding of the judge’s dilemma.

Mrs. Tsimhoni knew that in the absence of a genuine attempt at reunification between the children and their father, their removal from her custody was inevitable. She and the children toured the Children’s Village three months earlier.

However, it would have been difficult, nearly impossible, to
order a change in custody in the circumstances presented. Mr. Tsimhoni had returned to live in Israel with his new wife and child. The prospect of allowing the children’s mother to continue to “brainwash” them was intolerable. I have no doubt that Judge Gorcyca had considered many other options before choosing the Children’s Village.

The mother had so empowered her children that even she could not obtain their cooperation to speak to or have lunch with their father. In my view, because of her self-centered need to obtain revenge against her ex-husband she turned three innocent young children into victims, and she alone is to blame for their predicament.

Typically in these cases, the children are ordered to live with their grandparents or other relatives who will adhere to a court order that the mother not be permitted any contact with the children. In the Tsimhoni case, the immediate family lived in Israel, including both sets of grandparents.

I recall a case of mine many years ago where two young boys were taken by their mother to Germany on the pretence of a holiday. They didn’t return, leaving a devastated father in Vancouver. His court applications in Germany were of no assistance in recovering his children.

Over the years the eldest boy begged his mother to allow him to visit his father, but she refused. Finally, when he turned twelve-years old she consented and he flew on his own to visit his father for two weeks.

At the conclusion of the holiday, I received a phone call from the father. His son was refusing to fly back to Germany. I told him that he had no choice but to take his son to the airport and see that he got on the plane.

Father and son arrived at the British Airways counter and the check-in process began, but suddenly the young boy started emptying his suitcases, throwing the clothes on the floor, and yelling that he would not board the plane.

His actions so distressed the clerks at the counter they called the captain of the 747 to come and speak to the boy. The pilot’s overture was of no use, as the boy still would not budge. With that, the captain advised my client that he would not allow his son to board the aeroplane for safety reasons. The boy remained with his father and a custody order was obtained in British Columbia.

But that was not the end. Two summers later I received a phone call from my client who advised his younger son, now approaching twelve-years old, had surreptitiously left Germany and showed up on his doorstep in Vancouver. His mother in Germany was frantic, as he left under cover of night and she had no idea where he was. He too escaped the clutches of the mother who had abducted him years before, and remained in Vancouver.

A dynamic in my client’s case and in the Tsimhoni case is that the younger child or children will often follow the older sibling, which is exactly what occurred in Judge Gorcyca’s courtroom.

So what is a judge to do? In certain jurisdictions reunification programs have been established for children who have, for no legitimate reason, refused to see a parent. In British Columbia, parental alienation expert, Dr. Katherine Reay runs “Family Reflections”, a residential program where children receive intensive therapy over a prolonged period of time. She reports a significant success rate.

As for those who still insist that parental alienation is a pseudo-syndrome that doesn’t really exist, I have seen it with my own eyes for many decades, as have hundreds of other lawyers and psychologists across North America. It is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse, rivalling the inexplicable tactic of falsely alleging a parent has sexually abused his or her children.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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

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

Father Walks to Highlight the Abuse of Parental Alienation

BarristerPatrick Glynn is on a mission. He wants the world to know that parental alienation is rampant in North America and that he is just one its many victims.

Emotionally and financially spent after his divorce, Patrick’s website, walkforlostkids.com tells his story. As a working father Patrick was not his children’s primary caretaker, but he never dreamed he would become an occasional father.

With the financial pressure of paying for two households he was forced to move and take a job 300 miles away from his children, nonetheless, he drove ten-hours roundtrip every weekend to see them. Worst of all was that the game played by his wife meant he had to prove he was a worthy father, a cunning ploy that saw his wife and her lawyer convince the Court to curtail his visits to six weeks a year.

He says:

“I went from being an involved, hands-on dad to the courts relegating me to seeing my two daughters for six weeks a year, all because my wife wanted a divorce”.

To gain attention to the harm of parental alienation and the despair of its victims, Patrick began his “Walk for Lost Kids” last Fall by walking from Boston to Washington D.C, a 400 mile trek. Along the way he was joined by moms and dads who suffer like he does from a family court system that is out of touch with social science research on parenting and the evils of abusive spouses who use their children to inflict punishment on their spouses.

Writing on his blog, Patrick says:

“Meanwhile, smart, compassionate parents are endlessly stuck in their own cycles; unable to escape family courts and punished with financial and court harassment for years on end. Reasonable, solution-based people eventually realize their limited options at getting out of the abusive never-ending spiral:

Homicide
Suicide
Walking away from their own kids (which won’t stop the court harassment)
Fighting in court against their will, while being financially drained with little hope since the system is slanted
Accepting — in most instances — at least a decade of abuse while the kids are minors with little to no understanding from their peers.”

If this sounds overly dramatic be assured that it is reality for thousands of parents, many of whom have passed through the doors of my law office. And if you think this is a father’s rights issue, you’re wrong. It affects mothers as well as fathers, but it is the children who are scarred for life.

Back on the road, Patrick has just embarked on his second walk this month, a trek that will take him 549 miles from Sacramento to Los Angeles and end in late May. If you see him on the road, walk with him, and let him know you agree the family law justice system needs reform and needs it now. His Walk schedule is posted on walkforlostkids.com.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Family Law Nightmare: Alienated Teens Disappear, Mom Says She Knows Nothing

GEO CASUALLegal experts say that most spouses settle their matrimonial differences consensually despite resentment and hard feelings that linger, yet for the sake of their children and their sensible desire to avoid court proceedings and the enormous costs, life carries on and the family makes the necessary adjustments.

However, law books and judicial dockets still abound with high conflict cases where extreme positions rule and one or both parties’ hatred and anger escalates to crisis levels.

A family in Minnesota now enters Lawdiva’s “Family Nightmares” Hall of Fame. As is typical, the divorce between Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki got off to a bad start after the first court orders Sandra obtained in May 2011, including full custody of their five children and $13,000 a month in child and spousal support, were set aside as fraudulent.

In September 2011 Judge David Knutson ordered a new trial ruling there was “sufficient evidence showing that Ms. Grazzini-Rucki defrauded Mr. Rucki and the idea that the father would agree to those divorce terms was “beyond belief””. Apparently, Ms.Rucki obtained the earlier orders by alleging her husband agreed to them.

From there it grew even uglier. Ms. Rucki now alleged that her husband had abused their two eldest daughters ages 13 and 15, who were living with her, pending the new trial. In preparation for the fresh trial Judge Knutson ordered the daughters to see psychologist Dr. Paul Reitman. In 2012 Dr. Reitman recommended the girls be put into foster care. His report to the court highlighted the mother’s tragically successful parental alienation. He wrote that the girls were “depressed and browbeaten” and required “deprogramming”.

In October 2012 Judge Knutson ordered Ms. Grazzini-Rucki to leave the family home and the girls were ordered to reside with their aunt, Nancy Olsen, who was to share temporary custody with Mr. Rucki’s sister, Tammy Love. Neither parent was to contact the children.

In April 2013 Ms. Rucki’s sister, Ms. Olsen, advised the court she was no longer able to take care of the girls and Judge Knutson ordered them to reside with their father’s sister in the family home. On April 19, 2013 the girls arrived back at the family home for several hours before they escaped from the basement of the home, never to be seen again by the court or their father.

In November 2013 the court granted full custody of the children to Mr. Rucki with supervised visitation to Ms. Rucki, necessary because “the court was concerned she would abduct the children if she is allowed unsupervised parenting time with them.” Judge Knutson found that Ms. Rucki had intentionally alienated her two eldest daughters from their father and her testimony at court about their whereabouts was “uncooperative and obstructionist”.

Mr. Rucki described the disappearance of his daughters as “worse than death” as he cares for the three youngest children on his own.

The media reported that an independent witness saw the girls get into their mother’s car after running from the family home. The girls also contacted a local television station saying they were afraid of their father. Ms Rucki continues to deny knowledge of the children’s disappearance or their current location.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki portrays herself as the victim of a corrupted court system. Blog “Carver County Corruption” describes her dilemma:

“Since then Sandra has lost all custody of her children, her home, vehicles, assets, even her personal belonging were awarded to her ex husband. She has not been allowed to see her children in almost a year for reasons unknown. Her two oldest daughters are runaways since April of 2013 due to severe abuse by their father, therapist and court appointed custodial guardian. Judge David Knutson has violated all of Sam Grazzini-Rucki`s constitutional rights and refuses to remove himself from this case due to obvious bias to the ex husband and his lawyer.”

The girls, now 15 and 17 years old, have been gone for two years. To date, no criminal charges have been laid. As I have said repeatedly, parental alienation is the worst form of child abuse. Ms. Rucki: How on earth could this be in your children’s best interests?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Could It Happen in Your Family?

DSC00507 (2)Tomorrow at 5 pm I’ll be doing an interview with Jill Egizii who is the host of her own show on blogtalkradio.com out of Springfield Illinois. Jill is a local politician and advocate for children with a special interest in parental alienation.

She’ll be discussing a story out of California involving pop radio icon Casey Kasem, now 81-years-old, who ruled the airwaves for decades as a music historian and deejay, best known for the popular show “American Top 40″ and its multiple spin-offs.

Mr. Kasem retired from radio and his impressive voice-over career in 2009 once he became debilitated by Parkinson’s disease. Recently, however, he has been back in the media spotlight as a result of a situation that is sadly, not uncommon.

Mr. Kasem’s three adult children, Mike, Julie and Kerrie, from his 7-year marriage to his first wife, Linda Meyers, have been refused contact with their father by his second wife, albeit of 33 years, whose relationship with his children was sour from the get-go in 1980.

Media reports indicate the children were very close to their father, who is of Lebanese heritage, and had regular contact with him until he became immobilized due to his illness and also lost his ability to speak.

Daughter Julie brought a conservatorship application in an attempt to become involved in his care, however, she dropped the court case after negotiating visiting time with her father’s wife, Jean Kasem.

The children’s desperate campaign to see their father has included “picketing” in front of the home he shares with Mrs. Kasem, all in an effort to gain access to him. But it is not only his children who are barred, but also close friends and long-time business associates, who participated in the protest outside his Holmby Hills estate in Los Angeles.

In December of last year, Mrs. Kasem consented to the children seeing their dad for twenty-minutes before being escorted out by a paid “bouncer”.

As a result of the profile of this family, one California legislator is proposing new law to protect disabled, elderly parents from “forced” estrangement, such as in this case.

Sadly, with the multiplicity of divorce and remarriage, there will be more cases like this and more elderly victims.

Kerrie Kasem will also be featured in this interview.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Why Do Parents Sometimes Act Like Children?

BarristerIn most major newspapers you can read a section called “Celebrating” where you will find the usual assortment of happy events: birth announcements, wedding anniversaries and high school graduation congratulations. Colour photos of happy, smiling faces abound.

But in the Vancouver Sun newspaper one morning, there was one Happy Birthday greeting that unsettled me. The contributor of the greeting wished his 8 year-old son a happy day, and reminded him that: “There’s not a day in the last five years that I have not thought about you…hopefully one day you will be in my life.. there’s so much you and I have missed…maybe next year you will be in my life.”

So, what’s the story here? From where I sit as a family law lawyer, a happy ending is probably unlikely. A number of scenarios come to mind.

Was the boy been abducted by his mother? Is this a case of parental alienation? Maybe the Courts have found this father unfit to parent? Or perhaps he is a victim of false molestation allegations? Is this young boy just a pawn in a dirty divorce?

Each of the scenarios described form a part of the work day of family law lawyers who take cases that no other lawyer wants to handle.

Reading between the lines, the parental pain is apparent and yet, the real victim is this young boy. The psychological literature tells us that kids raised with one parent missing from their lives will experience social, behavioral and psychological problems that children with two engaged parents may not.

Two questions arise: Why would a parent intentionally harm a child in this way? Why would a parent act like an angry child?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang