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Illinois Divorce: Parental Alienation

The case involving the Michigan judge that placed three children in juvenile hall as a punishment and coercive measure has been roundly criticized for using contempt proceedings, in what even the judge agreed is a longstanding Parental Alienation case. From a local Detroit newspaper account:

Three Bloomfield Hills kids who refused an order by a judge to go to lunch with their father have been ordered to a juvenile detention facility.The Tsimhoni family was in Oakland County’s family court for a hearing on supervised parenting time when Judge Lisa Gorcyca took matters into her own hands.

June 24 court transcripts showed how upset the judge was. She ordered the Tsimhoni kids ages 14,10 and 9 to have a “healthy relationship” with their father. She criticized them for avoiding him and even compared them to Charles Manson and his cult. Gorcyca then ordered the children to apologize and have a nice lunch with their dad. When they refused, Gorcyca held them in contempt and had each child hauled off to Children’s Village’s juvenile hall – until they are 18 years old.

The judge in this case was angry, frustrated and without sufficient understanding of her options, when she jailed these children. Subsequently, as of this week, she has released them and ordered them to a Michigan summer camp, where their parents may visit them.

Parental Alienation cases are difficult for all involved. However, there have emerged in recent years clinical interventions that can be very successful in repairing estranged parent-child relationships. What may have been useful to this judge was an understanding that she could have ordered a clinical intervention, and used the power of the court to force compliance by the parents.

Jailing the children may only have played into the alienating parent’s hands, and allowed the alienator to further blame the targeted parent for the jailing of the kids. Most PA cases, in my experience, involve an innocent targeted parent, and the pathological alienator. This Michigan case may be more complex. The fact that this case seems to involve many years of litigation between tw highly educated, wealthy parents, one of whom removed the kids to Israel at some point in the case, highlights what may be a high level of toxic behaviors between both parents, with the children the casualties of the war.