Last month, Michigan Judge Lisa Gorcyca found three children (15, 10 and 9) in contempt of court for refusing to have lunch with their father and sent them to live at Children’s Village until they reconsidered. The full transcript of the hearing and the interaction between the judge, the children, and the children’s lawyers can be accessed here.
According to the transcript, the judge believed that the mother had alienated the children from the father drawing the comparison to the Charles Manson cult, and that the father was “a great man.” She chastised the children for refusing her order to have a relationship with their father, ruled they were in contempt of that order, and ordered that they be sent to Children’s Village.
THE COURT: I don’t know what this is. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’re a defiant, contemptuous young man and the court finds both of you in direct contempt. . . . When you are ready to have lunch with your dad, to have dinner with your dad, to be normal human beings, I will review this when your dad tells me you are ready. Otherwise, you are living in Children’s Village [sic] til you graduate from high school. That’s the order of the court. Good bye.
She also ordered that the children could have no contact with the mother or anyone from the mother’s family.
According to the Detroit Free Press, two weeks after she sentenced the children to Children’s Village, the judge released them to spend two weeks in summer camp at the father’s urging. It is unclear what will happen to the children when summer camp is over.
While it is clear from the transcript that this case has a substantial history, the full facts of which we do not know, this court’s statements and rulings should be a cautionary tale for any legal consumer entering the child custody arena. Once you submit your custodial issue to the court’s jurisdiction, a judge will decide the custody of your children. Legal consumers should also note the statements of two of the children’s court appointed attorneys (see page 13, lines 13-15 and page 14, lines 18-21) and note that the children’s attorneys did not object to the judge’s ruling sending the children away.
Family court can be many things . . . good, bad, and sometimes ugly.