Parental Alienation – Is this Oakland County’s most toxic divorce ever?

Is this Oakland County’s most toxic divorce ever?

Omer Tsimhoni and his ex-wife Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, have been litigating their divorce for almost eight years over custody of their three kids.

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If bitter divorces ever become an Olympic event, Omer Tsimhoni and his ex-wife, 

Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, might compete for the gold medal.

Their case in Oakland County became internationally infamous when the judge locked up the couple’s three children for refusing to have lunch with their father. But it’s also unique for its scale, cost and collateral damage.

More: Michigan high court rejects suspension on judge who jailed kids in custody fight

Consider some of the numbers:

  • Almost 8 years of litigation
  • 1,001 docket entries thus far
  • 21 lawyers, including 16 for Eibschitz-Tsimhoni alone
  • Three Oakland County judges and several trips to the Michigan Court of Appeals
  • Related cases filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit and also in courts in Israel
  • $400,000 plus in legal fees.

„It’s the most toxic case I’ve heard of since I’ve been practicing,“ said Birmingham lawyer Henry Baskin, who’s handled hundreds of divorces in almost 60 years of practice. „It’s war between these people. There’s hate, there’s vindictiveness. Everybody gets burned.“

Baskin, like many lawyers in metro Detroit, has watched the case closely. He’s never been hired by either side, but considering the number of lawyers who have been, he quipped „I think 20% of the bar is involved in the case.“

More: Did Judge Gorcyca have a right to a meltdown moment?

‚Worst nightmare‘

Oakland County Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca was nearing the end of her first year in office in December 2009, when she was assigned randomly case No. 766749-DM.

The DM code denotes a divorce case involving minor children. Gorcyca, an assistant prosecutor before being elected judge, was no stranger to hostile court proceedings. But it’s doubtful she could have anticipated that this particular divorce case would alter her career so dramatically.

„This case is every judge’s worst nightmare,“ Gorcyca’s lawyer, Thomas Cranmer, later told the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission, in defending her actions.

Omer Tsimhoni is an Israeli citizen and a former pilot for the Israeli Defense Forces. He earned a doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan and now works as a General Motors researcher.

He’s lived most of his life in Israel, but currently resides in the U.S.

Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni is a pediatric ophthalmologist by training, who formerly taught at the U-M Medical School. A court filing indicated she’s let her medical credentials lapse but is working to restore them.

Court records show they married in 1995 in Israel, where they both grew up, then moved to the U.S. when she accepted a job in Ann Arbor. They had three children between 2001 and 2005, who were born in the U.S. but have dual citizenship.

In November 2008, Omer Tsimhoni returned to Israel to take a job with General Motors and hopes of bringing his family back with him eventually. The family moved to Israel but several months later, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni returned to Michigan with the children.

More: Judge Lisa Gorcyca has lawyers‘ support despite misconduct ruling

Lawsuits start

In December 2009, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni filed for divorce in Oakland, claiming the marriage had broken down and her husband was trying to take the children back to Israel.

Tsimhoni responded by filing court cases in Israel claiming his wife had kidnapped the children and also in U.S. District Court in Detroit, claiming she’d violated the Hague Convention, a multi-country treaty which seeks to protect children from abduction across international boundaries.

While the divorce case proceeded, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni was awarded temporary custody of the children and the acrimony soon escalated. He had once called police claiming his wife slapped his face as he tried to leave the house after an argument.

She later sought a personal protection order, claiming he assaulted her in front of her children. When the children visited their father, he was required to surrender his passport to Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, who held it until the children returned to her.

As the tensions grew, exchanging children became so hostile that police were needed to mediate the transfer. By September 2010, Gorcyca ordered psychiatric evaluations for the children, and the parents.

Parental alienation

Two months later, Tsimhoni made his first claim of parental alienation, arguing his wife was deliberately turning the children against him. Eibschitz-Tsimhoni denied it, claiming the children were afraid of their father, whom she said had been abusive toward them and that she couldn’t force them to love someone.

The issue would continue for years.

In August, 2011, the judgment of divorce was entered, granting joint custody but with the children living with their mother most of the time. Tsimhoni was ordered to pay $1,750 a month in child support.

The acrimony continued with Omer Tsimhoni continuing to claim that his children had been poisoned against him, barely speaking to him when they were together.

Eventually the children began protesting spending time with their father at all, and Gorcyca sought to enforce their father’s rights to see them. She’d order the children to spend time with their father, but they refused. At one point, they linked arms in the hallway to try to prevent them from being taken into court.

By early 2015, Gorcyca began warning the children that if they continued to defy her orders, they could be held in contempt and sent to Children’s Village, the county’s youth shelter/juvenile detention center.

She also continued to pressure Eibschitz-Tsimhoni to facilitate parenting time for their father. Gorcyca grew so frustrated with the mother that that on April 2, 2015, she order Eibschitz-Tsimhoni to report to the court at 9 a.m. and be detained in the courthouse lockup until 4:30 p.m.

Manson reference

At a hearing on June 23, 2015, Gorcyca threatened to jail Eibschitz-Tsimhoni if the children didn’t improve their behavior toward their father.

She ordered the children to meet with their father the following day in her court. One of the children met with her father at 9 a.m. in the jury room beside Gorcyca’s courtroom, but word soon reached Gorcyca that the child was not interacting with Tsimhoni.

Gorcyca spoke to the child briefly, then wrote a script for Eibschitz-Tsimhoni to read to all the children, explaining that their father loved them. When three children returned to the jury room about 11:30 a.m., they still refused to communicate with their father.

Gorcyca began contempt hearings against the children. The oldest child apologized to Gorcyca but refused to apologize to his father, saying his father was violent and had hit his mother.

Gorcyca told the boy his behavior was the worst she’d seen in 46,000 cases.

„You, young man are the worst one,“ she said. „So you bought yourself living in Children’s Village going to the bathroom in public and maybe summer school.“

Sheriff deputies then handcuffed the boy, who was 14 at the time.

She compared the boy’s actions to those of cult leader Charles Manson and made a circular motion with her finger near her ear as she said it.

„Dad, if you ever think that he has changed, and therapy has helped him and he’s no longer like Charlie Manson’s cult, then you let us know,“ Gorcyca said.

She eventually held all three children in civil contempt and ordered them held at Children’s Village for the summer and scheduled a review of their detention for September.

„No one from Mom’s side is allowed to visit any child at Children’s Village,“ Gorcyca wrote in an order.

The Michigan Supreme Court last week ruled that Gorcyca committed judicial misconduct when she „directed disparaging and demeaning remarks“ at the children. It rejected a 30-day suspension recommended by the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission and ruled that a public censure was enough.

Media storm

News of the detention soon exploded in media coverage in the U.S., Europe and Israel. The case became a flash point in the parental rights argument.

Fathers‘ Rights groups ralliedto the side of Omer Tsimhoni, agreeing that he was the victim of parental alienation. Other groups rallied to the side of the mother, claiming the children can’t be ordered to love someone.

Facebook pages quickly sprung up promoting one side or the other. Two GoFundMe pages were set up to raise money for legal fees for Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, who would later acknowledge paying a public relations firm $10,000 to represent her side of the issue through social media and other means.

She also claimed to have spent more than $400,000 in legal fees, though at least one of her attorneys asked to quit the case over unpaid bills.

The children spent 17 days at Children’s Village before Gorcyca agreed to release them to attend a Jewish summer camp.

In July, 2015, Omer Tsimhoni asked the court to grant him sole custody of the children and in August, they were placed in a 5-day reunification program, aimed at addressing parental alienation. After that, Gorcyca gave their father temporary custody and ordered their mother to have no contact with them for 90 days.

Eibschitz-Tsimhoni wouldn’t see her children again in person for almost nine months, reuniting with them in April 2016.

Collateral damage

In September 2015, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni accused Gorcyca of being biased and asked Gorcyca to recuse herself. Gorcyca refused.

Eibschitz-Tsimhoni appealed to Oakland County Chief Judge Nanci Grant, who declined to hear the request, citing a possible appearance of impropriety. The case was turned over to St. Clair County Judge Daniel Kelly, who ruled that Gorcyca should remain on the case.

The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission filed a misconduct complaint against Gorcyca over her actions in the case. Gorcyca insisted she’d done nothing wrong, but asked Grant to reassign the case. She did, giving it to longtime Judge Joan Young.

Gorcyca was now off the case, but found herself battling the misconduct charges.

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Cranmer, Gorcyca’s attorney, later asked the Michigan Supreme Court to dismiss the charges, saying Gorcyca’s actions were a one-time occurrence, borne of years of frustration with the case.

„Everything that she did in this case … with the exception of the hearing on the 24th … indicates her good faith and due diligence,“ Cranmer said.

Lynn Helland, executive director of the Tenure Commission, disagreed.

„It is a referendum on whether Michigan permits its angry judges to insult, berate and ridicule children and demonstrate a loss of impartiality and with the barest of nods to due process, find a child in contempt of an order that didn’t exist,“ Helland said.

Oakland County has spent $111,000 in legal fees defending Gorcyca against the charges.

Commission head fired

Gorcyca wasn’t the only person to have her career affected by the Tsimhoni case.

In September 2016, Paul J. Fischer, the executive director of the Tenure Commission who filed the complaint against Gorcyca, was fired. He later claimed in a lawsuit that he was the victim of religious discrimination because he is an Orthodox Jew.

Fischer said that shortly after the news reports of the children being sent to Children’s Village, he received a letter from Roey Gilad, the consul general of Israel for the Midwest, expressing concern about Gorcyca and her handling of the children, who have dual citizenship.

Gilad wanted to speak to the children and asked Fischer to ask Tsimhoni’s lawyers to arrange it. Fisher eventually passed on the request, and when he ran into one of the lawyers at a social event, handed him Gilad’s business card.

He was eventually fired by a commissioner, who is not named in the lawsuit. That commissioner had previously told Fischer, „You’re Jewish, you speak Hebrew, you’ve been to Israel,“ the suit claims.

Fischer’s lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court.


Case continues

When Joan Young took over the case from Gorcyca, she quickly put both sides on notice that they needed to behave better.

„I like to think of this as an honorable profession … we should treat each other civilly,” Young said. She noted her disappointment at the hostile tone found in some of the pleadings, telling both sides she wouldn’t tolerate disparaging comments.

But both sides continued to fight the case. In January 2016, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni asked for custody of the children to be returned to her.

„The children lost their mother from their lives on June 24, 2016,“ Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s lawyers wrote.

In early April, she was allowed to see them, but three days after their first reunion with their mother, their father asked again for sole custody of them.

In May, Young order the couple to take part in mediation and in June, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni was once again became primary custodial parent, having the children about 68% of the time.

Young retired in December 2016 after almost 30 years on the bench. The case was reassigned to Judge Victoria Valentine.

Eibschitz-Tsimhoni later asked for child support to help pay their expenses, saying in pleadings that she lives on an allowance from her parents in Israel of about $9,000 per month. Her ex-husband makes more than $200,000 and should pay more. she said.

Lawyers for both parents eventually withdrew from the case, but that didn’t end it. New pleadings continued to be filed as recently as earlier this month. The judgment of divorce was entered in 2011, but they continue to litigate other matters, most recently the sale of an Ann Arbor home.

Both parents now represent themselves.


Contact John Wisely: 313-222-6825 or On Twitter @jwisely

 John Wisely, Detroit Free Press Published 11:02 p.m. ET July 30, 2017
Tags: Familie Familienrecht – Entfremdung PAS Eltern-Kind-Entfremdung – Richterin Judge Lisa Gorcyca – Gelichberechtigung – Justiz – Kindeswohl – Kindeswohlgefährdung – Sorgerecht – Urteile – Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) – psychische Gewalt  – Scheidung – Familie – Familienrecht international bekannter Scheidungs-Fall

FAMILY LAW – Custody battle in Malaysia

Übersetzung in Deutsch

Here’s how easy it is to lose your child in a custody battle in Malaysia

Original image from

We all know how the saying goes – fall in love, then get married, then have a baby? For most people in love, a wedding is what they dream of. They seal their love for each other by exchanging vows and signing a marriage certificate, and live happily ever after. But… we all know that a Cinderella ending happens in fairy tales. In real life? Not so much. The happily-ever-after might fade and before we know it, it’s time to call a lawyer and say goodbye, even if there are things to consider… like children.

If there is a kid involved in a divorce, obviously only one parent will get custody of the child. The ideal situation is for both parents to seek mediation whereby they come to an amicable agreement without bringing it to court. Through this, the parents get to decide what is best for all parties and it’s also a lot more drama-free. But if both refuse to settle, this is where a custody battle comes in. It involves lawyers, money and the sole decider will be the judge.

Custody battles can get ugly, so Malaysians would want to think twice if they want to get a divorce if there are children involved. We’ve heard of many custody battles, but how does it actually work and what will cause you to lose the kid? We took a look at the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (LRA) and here’s actually how easy it is to lose your child in a custody battle in Malaysia…

1. If you’re a dad and your kid is below 7 years

Malaysians have been seeing a pattern of custody being granted to more mothers than fathers. Image from

There’s a higher chance that the court will grant custody of children below the age of 7 to their MOTHERS, even though there’s an assumption that both parents are equally capable of caring for their child. According to Justice Faiza Tamby Chik, this is mainly due to the fact that babies are more physically dependent on their mommas by nature.

Malaysians have been seeing a pattern of custody being granted to more mothers than fathers and this has caused accusations of unfairness to dads. In order to gain custody, the father will have to prove that his spouse is not Mom of The Year and that he’s a better parent, in terms of finance and the overall welfare of the child, so the argument is completely refutable. The belief that younger kids are more attached to their mothers is actually no longer a legal requirement in many courts, but a case review study proved that an average 67% of judges in Malaysia still favour the presumption.

Meanwhile, the Syariah court states that the mother has a right of custody of a male child until he is 7 years old and a female child until she is 9 years old. Mothers may however apply to extend that right for the male child up to 9 years old and for the female child up to 11 years old. After that, the father has custody. If the child has reached an ‘age of discernment’, he/she can choose which parent to live with – the age of discernment is literally 8 years for the boy and 10 for the girl.

Although the judge is supposed to be all pro and stuff, many other professionals and parents continue to doubt the legitimacy of these decisions. Association Against Parental Alienation Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (Pemalik) has often claimed that decisions made in custody battles did not take into consideration the consequence of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) in most cases.

“Parental alienation (PAS) occurs when one parent disallows the other parent from communicating with their children. The dominant parent then brainwashes the child against the other parent, assuring the child that it is all right to ignore the other parent.” – R.S. Ratna, Pemalik President, The Malaysian Bar

2. If your spouse converts your kid to Islam without your knowledge


Indira Gandhi faced a custody nightmare when her ex-husband converted their kids to Islam and was granted custody by the Syariah Court. Image from The Malay Mail Online

Just so you know, Malaysia practices a DUAL justice system – civil law and Syariah lawSyariah law has a say over every Muslim in Malaysia and exclusively handles Islamic issues like family and religious matters. The two worlds never collided and everybody just kinda minded their own business, until people were accused of using the syariah law to their advantage and adding drama in custody battles.

The highly publicized cases of M. Indira Gandhi from Perak and S. Deepa from Negri Sembilan got people questioning how these laws function in relation to each other when both their ex-husbands unilaterally (means it’s done without the agreement or participation of other people it might affect) converted their kids to Islam and were granted custody by the Syariah Court. Both moms are Hindus and therefore, had no right to be there.

Obviously these moms weren’t gonna go down without a fight, so Indira challenged the case through the civil courts. She won and was granted full custody of her kids in 2010, but then her ex husband, Muhammad Riduan still refused to return their youngest daughter to her despite the High Court instructing the police to find him. However, the police got confused about who they should listen to…the civil court or Syariah court?

S. Deepa was involved in a similar custody battle. Image from

S. Deepa was involved in a similar custody battle. Image from

And then the Court of Appeal (a very high level court) said the civil court shouldn’t interfere over Islamic issues, and that’s how Minister in the PM’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman suggested an amendment to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. The new Bill will ensure that Indira and Deepa’s case will not happen again because conversion of a child under the age of 18 will now require consent of BOTH parents!

“Now we are saying that all marriages under civil law must be resolved by the civil courts, it doesn’t matter if one person converts to Islam, the marriage took place under civil law. This will in turn take into consideration the issue of custody of children, and those who were born out of the marriage under civil law, the civil courts should deal with these cases.” – Nazri Aziz, Tourism and Culture Minister, The Malay Mail Online


3. If your kid likes your spouse more


But I like daddy, too. Original image from

Also, the law that comes into play in deciding the custody of children revolves around the wishes of the child when he or she is of an age to express an independent opinion (that’s 8 years old). This is applicable in both the civil and Syariah courts. This may seem like the most obvious solution to custody battles…let the kid pick la…but many family law practitioners and child experts believe that children should NEVER be forced to make these decisions. Can you imagine the guilt that would stay with them because they were forced to choose between mummy or daddy?

Interviews with children are common in Malaysia although it may not be the most effective method to achieve results, especially if the interviews are conducted by the judge only. Child interviews are a lot more complex than they look, and most family judges are not TRAINED in that department.

“It is not a simple case of asking the child simple questions like: ‘Who do you like more?’ or ‘Who is a better parent?’ Judges must understand that children may be coached or trained by the parent holding custody, so the questions have to be couched differently and judges will have to learn to read between the lines to get to the truth. They need a lot of training for that.” – Lalitha Menon, Bar Council’s Family Law Committee chair, The Star

Consultant psychologist Valerie Jaques also believes that the kids cannot fully be relied on to make such a major decision as they have not reached the full potential to make good decisions. Asking the kids to choose puts them in a difficult position as it creates a lot of stress, confusion and fear of rejection in them.

“This aspect could be improved by allowing the judge power to conduct the interview with a child psychologist, and/or pediatrician.” – Fahri Azzat, lawyer


4. If the welfare officer doesn’t like you


Custody may not be granted to both parents if they are deemed unfit. Image from Pinterest

Ok la, the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 does not exactly give FULL control to children, as it does allow the court to listen to witnesses, doctor’s report, and the Welfare Officer. Some judges in Malaysia do depend on experts’ view to help with their decision.

While financial income is obviously very important (cause raising another human being ain’t cheap yo), the welfare of a child also includes providing him/her with support, love and security. Home and school environment is also looked into, so here’s a tip if you’re trying to win a custody battle: Tidy up your house and try to smile more at your kid and the Welfare Officer. As Welfare Officers mainly investigate the physical comforts, reports from psychiatrists and psychologists are highly helpful for their consideration.

However, Honey Tan, the Co-chairperson of the Bar Council Human Rights Committee and Chairperson of the Family Law Committee said the problem is that welfare reports are not very useful as Welfare Officers are not trained child specialists.

“It is a shame when parties cannot agree. In those situations, the judge is the best person to decide. Welfare reports should be obtained, but in practice, they are not of much use and not commonly ordered. Our Welfare Officers are not specialists in child rights and family dynamics, especially in situations where families are breaking down.” – Honey Tan, The Malaysian Bar

Aiyaya, some experts say better if the judge listens to Welfare Officer, others say better if the judge decides himself… then how? All in all, it looks like it puts either parent in a very precarious position. Either one could lose their children if it were up to Malaysian law. :-(

Think twice, thrice and as many times as you can before you get divorced if you have a kid


I know I’m very lovable but please stop fighting!! Image from

Overall, law experts and practitioners agree that Malaysian law is not perfect when it comes to custody battles.

Bar Council’s Lalitha Menon noted that it’s important for judges to undergo basic training. Another aspect to improve on is the lack of uniformity, as different judges have different practices. Vicky Alahakone, also a member of the Bar Council, said that many children become victims in the long run as a result of inconsistent practices.

To prevent all unnecessary stress on the kid, Pemalik has proposed for a panel to guide divorcing parents instead of them calling it quits there and then. The association proposed an Early Intervention Project where divorcing parents will have to discuss some serious stuff such as custody, finance, education and their kids’ upbringing before divorce do them part for good.

At the end of the day, it’s the children who might be most affected by a failed marriage, especially if it involves a daunting custody battle. You might think that they will get it over with after a while, but studies have shown that it’s something they carry with them for the rest of their lives. It will affect their studies, social relationships and psychological adjustment. After all, they are kids and their problems should only consist of not being able to eat ice cream for breakfast, not stuff like choose only one parent to live with.