On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Thursday, July 30, 2015.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about a child custody case that has received national media attention. It concerns a divorced couple in Michigan (originally from Israel) and a child custody battle that first began in 2009.
What make this case so complicated and so sad are allegations and observations that the children have been victims of parental alienation disorder. While children (and especially teenagers) can harbor resentment and anger against one or both parents in divorce, this level of anger seems difficult to explain without some sort of psychological manipulation.
In June, the judge ordered the three children ages 14 (or 15), 10 and 9, to have a relationship with their father (lunch and visitation to start). According to news sources, the three kids have refused to eat with him, talk to him, look at him or even to touch food that he has touched. The children were so determined not to cooperate that they were willing to be held in contempt of court and placed in a juvenile detention facility rather than visit with their father.
The judge first called the oldest child “defiant, contemptuous” and “mentally messed up.” When the two younger children followed his lead, the judge said to them: “I’ve never seen anything like this. One day you can watch this video and realize that you two have been brainwashed. . . Every single adult in this courtroom thinks you have been brainwashed.”
After putting the kids in juvenile detention, the judge eventually moved them to a court-ordered summer camp. Because this case has become so high-profile, the costs associated with that summer camp will total nearly $30,000. This is in addition to about five or six years’ worth of legal costs already incurred by the two parents.
The judge seems to place blame primarily on the mother in this case. She told the woman: “Your behavior . . . is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in 46,000 cases.” But public opinion in response to the case has been very polarized. Many domestic violence victim advocacy groups are supporting the mother, even though the allegations of violence seemingly have not been substantiated. And others point out that no matter what the parents have done, the children should never have been placed in juvenile detention. They are the clear victims.
It is nearly impossible, as an outside observer, to separate facts and falsehoods in this absolute mess of a situation. But it is clear that something terrible has happened, and that serious court intervention is necessary.
To learn more about parental alienation, please visit this page on our website.