Hearing delayed, charges fly in bitter custody battle

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — A hearing in a high-profile Oakland Circuit Court custody case involving three Bloomfield Hills children has been adjourned until Feb. 22, with filings continuing to claim the other parent’s home is damaging to the children.

Several matters — including a request to return the children to their mother’s custody — are now scheduled to be heard by Judge Joan Young, recently assigned to the case after a previous judge stepped down amid disputed allegations of bias in favor of the father.

Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni and ex-husband, Omer Tsimhoni, divorced in 2011 and have been battling ever since over who should have custody of their two boys, now ages 14 and 11 years old, and 9-year-old daughter.

After seeking to have Oakland Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca removed from the case, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni’s attorneys now are seeking to have the Guardian ad litem, William Lansat, removed. They claim he has overstepped his authority and does not represent the best interests of the children. They also claimed the father seized pet photographs from his children they kept for comfort and has told the children their mother doesn’t want to see them.

In a court filing this month, Lansat wrote the allegations against him are without merit and should be dismissed. Lansat has been critical of a lack of cooperation by the mother and children. At one point, he compared the children’s behavior as “cult-like” similar to followers of the infamous Charlie Manson, with odd displays of non-verbal communication between themselves, including tapping out messages with their feet.

Lansat stressed the father’s goals of reconciliation with his children were modest.

“ ... Father has such a low bar here that if the children would accord him the same courtesies they would show a man selling Good Humor ice cream in the neighborhood, he would be happy,” Lansat recently wrote in one filing to Young.

Tsimhoni’s attorney, Kerri Middleditch, warned Young that allegations by his ex-wife constituted “the work of fiction submitted by mother to this court ... ” Middleditch wrote “mother takes no responsibility for the current state of affairs and her actions and arguments to anyone who will listen demonstrate the same. Mother started a media frenzy with misinformation and seems to be pleased with the results.”

Middleditch blamed Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, a pediatric ophthalmologist, for social media postings and a banner flown behind an airplane at the children’s school, urging them to “be strong.”

In filings Tuesday, the mother’s attorneys insisted she was not responsible for any of the actions and stressed it was time to return the children to her home.

Up until last year, the children had been living with their mother. Their father, who spent much of his time working in Israel, had visitation privileges but turned to the court for help claiming his ex-wife had turned them against him. He claimed the children refused to look or talk with him. The mother said the children had witnessed violent behavior from their father and were fearful of him and afraid he might kidnap them.

The case made international news last year when Gorcyca found the children in contempt of her court order to have a healthy relationship with their father. On the advice of court professionals, including a Guardian ad litem, Gorcyca — who reached her frustration point when the children refused to eat lunch with their father — placed them first in the county’s Children Village facility, then a summer camp, and finally into an intensive parental-alienation program that required them to stay with their father with no contact with their mother.

She ordered both parents into counseling and placed a gag order on the case after a flurry of social media attacks and perceived threats were made against court officers.

In court filings, Eibschitz-Tsimhoni alleged Gorcyca had shown bias in the case and asked her to disqualify herself from hearing matters.

Gorcyca has repeatedly denied the allegations but eventually recused herself last month after a formal complaint was opened against her by the Judicial Tenure Commission. That matter, which includes claims Gorcyca ridiculed and laughed at the children, is still to be reviewed and could be dismissed or result in Gorcyca’s censure, suspension or removal from office.


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