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Dad in Oakland child visitation dispute wants custody

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — The father of three children who are at the center of a controversial custody battle filed Thursday for sole custody of the children and also wants their mother to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Omer Tsimhoni, 46, said his efforts to spend time with the two boys, 14 and 10 years old, and a 9-year-old girl, have been thwarted and undermined by their mother, Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni. The father is also concerned that his ex-wife has “trampled on the privacy rights of the children” by providing news media outlets with the children’s photos.

The couple were divorced in 2011 after being married for 16 years and the children had lived with their mother until June 24 when — after repeated problems with the father having parenting time with them — Oakland Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca found the children in contempt of her court order to spend time with Omer Tsimhoni. Gorcyca ordered the children into Children’s Village, a county juvenile detention facility for neglected children or those charged with crimes.

Last week, Gorcyca dismissed the contempt order and had the children moved to a summer camp in southeast Michigan while legal matters are resolved. Gorcyca has scheduled a review Monday to find out how the children are doing at camp.

In the father’s request for sole custody he notes his ex-wife — without his consultation or consent — has retained an attorney from New York to represent the children. The attorney has sent sealed envelopes to the children — first at Children’s Village and more recently at the camp — with instructions that they are to only be opened by the children. All of the envelopes have instead been given, unopened, to attorney William Lansat, appointed by Gorcyca to oversee the legal rights of the children since the filing of the 2009 divorce.

“ ... mother’s attempt at communication with the minor children in and of itself demonstrates her disregard for the children’s well-being and attempts by the court to afford them an opportunity to be free of the conflict imposed upon them as a result of this custody dispute,” the Wednesday legal filing reads. “It is clear that mother is again trying to obstruct or otherwise interfere with defendant father’s relationship with the children by engaging this New York attorney to send such communications.

“Despite the drastic measures taken by this court to protect the children, plaintiff mother continues to act in a manner that is harmful to their emotional well-being and demonstrates that she will go to no lengths, including sacrificing the well-being of the children for her own personal agenda. Based upon the foregoing, plaintiff mother is not a fit and proper person to have legal or physical custody of the children, and should be allowed supervised parenting time only when a mental health professional deems it appropriate.”

Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s lawyer, Lisa Stern, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Omer Tsimhoni’s filing said intensive therapy is required to bring him back into the children’s lives and his ex-wife should have to pay for that therapy. It also asks that she be required “to submit to a psychological and, if deemed necessary by the psychologist, a psychiatric examination at her sole expense.”

Tsimhoni, a General Motors engineer, lives most of the year in Israel. His ex-wife is a pediatric ophthalmologist.

The filing suggests she be allowed supervised visitation “only after consultation and approval of a court-approved mental health professional and (Lansat.)”

At a hearing last week, Lansat directed many criticisms toward the mother for “damaging” the children’s relationship with their father.

“She has done whatever you can to meddle, obstruct or ruin a loving relationship” which once existed between them and their father,” Lansat told Gorcyca, adding it was going to take considerable time “to undo five years of damage.”

“You have to give her credit,” Lansat said. “Whatever she did she has been successful. She’s been on a campaign and she had damaged the children.”

Lansat noted the mother spoke Hebrew to the children when in the presence of anyone monitoring the parents’ behavior. He said therapy efforts involving five different professionals over the past five years have failed when the children refused to leave their mother’s car or in some cases, leave a waiting room to the session. They refused to speak or look at him or eat food he had touched.

The children often wordlessly huddled together signaling each other by tapping their feet “like Morse Code” said Lansat, who described it as “cult-like” behavior.


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