Children Ordered to Talk to Their Father or Be Found in Contempt.
In any divorce where custody of the children is contested, absent an agreement between the father and mother, the decision is left to the ineffective, expensive and arbitrary court system. Judicial officers (judges and commissioners) are to consider the “best interest” of the children in deciding custody and parenting time (Arizona, now uses the terminology legal decision-making).
Judges do their best but the court process is cumbersome and expensive when it comes to trying to make a decision in the children’s best interests while considering the wishes of the parents and the children. The process can quickly become adversarial and the Judge ultimately makes a decision, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
In a Michigan case, three siblings, ages 9, 10 and 15, were ordered to talk to their dad. The kids refused, stating their Dad had hit their mom and they had witnessed his violent temper. The Judge ordered them to have lunch and visit with their Dad. They refused. The Judge told them if they refused they would be found in contempt of court and be sent to a juvenile detention facility until they have graduated from High School.
The Judge said to the 15 year old, “I ordered you to talk to your father…, you chose not to…, you defied a direct court order… I am finding you in contempt…” The 15 year old said…[but] I thought there were rules for not hitting someone…” the Judge remarked, “You are defiant, you have no manners…” and sent them to juvenile detention. To make matters worse, the children now are at the detention center and neither the Mother nor any of her relatives can visit the children there, only the Father!
There are always two sides or more to every story. We don’t know all the facts. It seems clear to me the Judge was frustrated and overreacted in her detention and contempt order. It also reminds us how ill equipped our court system is in resolving family disputes. Also glaringly obvious, is the traumatic harm domestic violence has in the home.
Hopefully, you will never be faced with divorce or custody battles. If you are, remember kids are fragile people, not property. They have feelings and emotions and can suffer from embattled parents. Always look at it from a child’s perspective, not your own selfish or irrational response to a stressful divorce. Kids should not be forced to choose between a parent or be punished by the Judge and sent to detention. If you are in need of legal help, call us today at (480) 833-1113. Our experienced divorce and family law attorneys can assist in mediating or litigating to help you obtain the best resolution for you and your family.