Thank you to a devoted FB follower for calling this astonishing story to my attention: a Michigan judge has ordered three kids, aged 9-14, at the center of a heated custody battle to spend their summer in a juvenile detention center after they refused to obey her order to eat lunch with their dad. Sounds outrageous, and it is. But before you leap to a conclusion, take a look at the hearing transcript published by the Detroit Free Press (with minors’ names redacted, natch). Oakland County Family Court Judge Lisa Gorcyca, who the Free Press says is known for her pleasant demeanor, calls the children’s behavior “unlike anything [she’s] seen in 46,000 cases.” In Family Court, that is saying a lot. The children are given multiple opportunities to comply with the judge’s order that they spend time with their dad; they are even encouraged to do so by their lawyers. But in the end, they are defiant, and you get the sense Judge Gorcyca feels she has no choice.

That said, experts interviewed by the Free Press make a useful point: the parties who deserve punishment here are the parents (in this case, apparently the mother for turning her children against their dad).

I urge anyone contemplating a prolonged custody battle to read the article, and the transcript, and remember that children in almost every case benefit from having a peaceful upbringing, with both parents in their lives.

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