In the midst of a five-year divorce case, three Michigan children refused to see their father for lunch, and have been sent to juvenile detention as a result.
Courtroom Gets Heated When Boy Makes Statement
In court, the oldest child stated that he did nothing wrong, “I do not apologize for — for not talking to him because I have a reason for that and that’s because he’s violent and he — I saw him hit my mom and I’m not gonna talk to him.” Citing domestic abuse and potential risk to himself, his siblings, and their mother, he refused to see his father.
Judge Makes Brash Call
The judge found the child in contempt of court for not following her order to “have a healthy relationship with (his) father.” She sentenced the oldest boy to juvenile detention, and gave the younger children the option of going to lunch or joining their brother in jail. Bravely, the children chose to stand with their brother.
The judge harshly compared the children and their family to Charles Manson and has denied their mother from visits to them this summer. The children have since been moved to a summer overnight camp.
Experts Question Judges Decision
Experts are critical of the Judge’s rash behavior, stating that it is an unusual and unfortunate way to treat three minor children in the traumatic time of a divorce. The decision is not acting in the best interests of the children and is not supporting the families’ best interests. Separating the children from their family and denying them of relationships and support from family and friends is not beneficial to their emotional well-being.
Psychological Effects on Children are Long Lasting
Judith Burdick, a respected Michigan therapist, worries that the impact of this decision will have long lasting effects on the children. She suggests that a healthier alternative to sending minors to jail would be court mandated counseling. “The ones who are the most vulnerable are being treated the worst. Why should the children have to suffer this way?”
Re-Evaluation of Michigan Divorce Law
The high profile nature of this case is starting a statewide conversation about advocacy for children, concern over how our judicial system treats children, what is expected of Michigan divorce lawyers, and stricter policies on minors’ rights in cases of divorce or domestic abuse.
Damron, G. (2015, July 15). Experts Question Judges Decision To Detain Kids. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
Latener, B. (2015, July 9). Judge jails Kids For Refusing Lunch With Dad. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved July 20, 2015.