Speaking Out About the Tsimhoni Case

by | Jul 9, 2015 | Off Topic

I am sure there’s a lot more to the story of the Tsimhoni children being banished to the juvenile detention center Children’s Village by Judge Lisa Gorcyca. (See the story here.)

There must be.

But even so, even with all of the information we don’t know, it’s still not an appropriate response to children refusing to have lunch with their father or even for children who are refusing parenting time with their parent all together.

As a family law attorney in Southeastern Michigan for the past two decades, I can honestly say that everything about this news-making case is unusual. For one, it is highly irregular for children to be sitting in the courtroom with their mother as the Tsimhoni children were with their mother Maya two weeks ago.

I happened to be in Judge Gorcyca’s courtroom on the same day and I remember thinking how odd it was that there were two young children present during nearly the entire motion call. I could sense there was a reason the children were there – during summer vacation. This was not a school field trip for them.

The children must have a guardian ad-litem appointed to their case, and there must be more that we don’t know because for children, who are casualties of their parents’ decision to divorce anyway, to be punished so severely, there must be something we can’t understand.

Whatever the back story may be, however, there is simply no excuse for treating the children this way.

It is incredibly damaging on so many levels. To be taken away from their mother, separated from each other and locked in detention, potentially for years unless others speak out on their behalf within a legal system that is once again failing a high conflict divorce situation.

It’s as if a child misbehaved at home and their parents grounded them for life. That just does not happen. The parents and the child living in the same home can have dialogue about the child’s poor behavior or bad choice, the parents can observe their child’s immediate subsequent behavior, to see if a lesson is learned. Do the Tsimhoni children have that option under the circumstances of their legally imposed punishment?

Having practiced in our local courts for so long, I want to give the judge the benefit of the doubt. But I’m having a hard time. I can’t find a way to justify this extreme measure, taking children away from both parents, and from any family they know.

I simply cannot imagine any reason for it. What could the children have done to deserve such a punishment, really? Even if they aren’t well-mannered, really, what could they have done?

People are saying this is an issue of parental alienation. People are accusing the mother of alienating the children from their father.

Even if that is true, let’s take a step back and really look at this case.

Children do not ask to be born. They are not responsible for the actions of their parents. When parents decide to divorce, the children become casualties of adult decisions.

No one wants to shuttle back and forth between two homes, sometimes on a very frequent basis. No one wants to be objects of wrath and argument, of disagreement, power and control.

That is too often where children of divorce find themselves: stuck in the middle of ugliness, caught between parents who should know better than to behave the way they do.

Whatever these children may have done, and whatever the truth is, you don’t send children to a juvenile detention center because of the actions of their parents.

This is not how our system, our society that values freedom and respect, is built. We are supposed to be an example of justice, of right over wrong, of advocating for the most vulnerable among us and children certainly qualify.

I am heartened that friends and teachers of the Tsimhoni children are speaking out on their behalf. Righteousness still exists amid bizarre and inexplicable times like these.

Still, my heart weeps for these children. Really, it weeps for all of us swept into such an acrimonious place that we cannot see beyond our impulsive actions to the long-lasting, irrevocable, unarguable truth.

Here are some stories about the case:

The Dad’s exclusive interview

Tribune story

Read more Off Topic posts

Reflecting On What Matters

Reflecting On What Matters

The end of a calendar year is a good time to reflect on what matters to you. Whether you’re going through a divorce or not, checking in with your priorities and how they inform your life decisions is always time well spent.