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Judge orders 3 kids to juvenile detention for refusing to see father

Avital Norman Nathman is a freelance writer whose work places a feminist lens on a variety of topics, including motherhood, maternal health, gender, and reproductive rights. Her work has been featured in Bitch magazine, Cosmopolitan.com,...

Divorce case ends with kids being taken from mother and put in juvenile hall

Divorce cases can sometimes be hard on children, especially if it's a highly contentious one between parents. For many families, it takes a judge to help figure out visitation and custody arrangements. But many are crying out over a Michigan judge who decided that being placed in juvenile detention was the best course of action for three children who refused to visit their father.

Judge Lisa Gorcyca was presiding over a case that dealt with supervised parenting time for the Tsimhoni family of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The children, ages 14, 10 and 9, had refused to visit with their father despite the judge's order to have a "healthy relationship" with him. Judge Gorcyca then said that the children must apologize as well as have a "nice lunch" with their father.

The children refused again, with one of the children telling the judge that their father is violent and had hit their mother. The judge, however, believes the children have been brainwashed, and instead of finding another way to create peace between father and children, she held the Tsimhoni children in contempt and had them sent to Children's Village's juvenile hall until they are 18 years old. They have been living there for the past two weeks. The Tsimhoni kids have not even been placed together at Children's Village, and their mother has not been allowed to visit them.

Maya Tsimhoni was absolutely devastated, telling Fox 2 News that it "felt like I was watching them be executed." Tsimhoni admits that the divorce and the ensuing five years of being in and out of court (along with allegations of parental kidnapping and alienation) have not been easy on anyone. But she stresses that regardless of how bad a divorce gets, the court should not punish children.

It certainly sounds like this case has a number of severe and extenuating circumstances, but by placing the children in juvenile detention, Judge Gorcyca isn't helping them at all. There have to be other avenues, where the children could go live with another family member or even in a foster home, before being sent to juvenile hall — and until they're 18 at that.

Ms. Tsimhoni and her lawyer will be fighting to get her children back, but it may take a while going through all the proper legal channels. The children's father is the only one right now who has the power to change things, but he has just left the country on business and won't return for two weeks.

More on divorce

Kids and divorce: When a friend's parents split
Helping children deal with the challenges of divorce
How to talk to your kids about divorce

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