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Court pushes the limits of 'best interests' doctrine

Family law practitioners around the country are watching as a custody case in Michigan moves forward. Earlier this summer, the judge in the matter entered an unconventional order that has also garnered the attention of domestic violence victims' advocates. While the situation has changed since then, the underlying custody dispute continues.

The parents were married in Israel in 1995 and moved to the United States a few years later. In 2008, the husband took a job based in Israel and, according to court documents, moved there permanently. During a visit to the U.S. in January 2009, the husband informed the wife that he would be taking their three children back to Israel to live with him.

On the wife's motion, a court granted physical custody of the children, all minors, to the wife and ordered that they not leave the state of Michigan without the court's permission. The father was granted parenting time. The court demanded, too, that the parents surrender the children's passports.

In 2010, the wife accused the husband of hurting her and threatening her and the children during a handoff. She never filed charges, and an order for protection was denied.

The situation escalated at a June hearing, when the court objected to the children's behavior toward their father. It appears that the children -- two boys, 15 and 10, and a girl, 9 -- had refused to talk to their father. They also refused to touch food that their father had touched. The court had ordered that the children speak with their father, but they would not comply.

The court, it seemed, would not take no for an answer. We'll continue this in our next post.

Sources:

MLive!, "Children in bitter Oakland County custody battle to remain at summer camp; gag order issued," Gus Burns, July 24, 2015

MLive!, "Oakland County judge locks up kids in divorce case, gets national attention," Ian Thibodeau, July 9, 2015 (updated July 24, 2015)

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