Last month, a Michigan child custody dispute made international headlines when the judge presiding over the case sent the three minor children involved to juvenile detention for refusing to have lunch with their father. Our Michigan residents may find it interesting to learn that this high-conflict child custody dispute that involved three children aged nine, 11 and 14 has for the most part resolved, and they are now living with their father.
In this particular case, the presiding judge and the children’s attorney had noted that the mother of the children was actively interfering with the relationship between the children and their father. The couple had divorced in 2009 but because of the alleged parental alienation the children did not want to meet with their father or speak with him. Though a future hearing is scheduled to determine whether or not to take away the physical custody of the three children from the mother, for the time being the dispute seems to be partly resolved.
However, this family law dispute did not resolve itself overnight. In fact, the children were ordered by the court to undergo a very intense therapy which was specifically formulated to address the harm caused by parental alienation. Since the court file has been sealed, the exact nature of the treatment is not known. But, such court-ordered treatment for parental alienation is very rare, very expensive with only limited firms providing the said therapy and, in fact, some may even consider it controversial.
Nevertheless, in certain high conflict family law disputes surrounding child custody, court ordered therapy is one way of ending the conflict. Every child custody dispute is different and unique to that family but can arise between parties years after the divorce. In all cases, the best interest of the children is very important, and it is important for those involved in the dispute to consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Source: USA Today, “Children who refused lunch with dad reunite with him,” L. L. Brasier, Sept. 10, 2015