Can a Court Hold Non-Party Children in Civil Contempt?

Category: Divorce & Family Law

I believe it would be beneficial to shed some additional light, not that there isn’t enough attention on this case already, as to how we arrived at today’s juncture.

Dr. Tsimhoni sought counsel from attorney Lisa Stern on a very sensitive matter concerning her children. In most family law matters, the essence of our practice revolves around the best interests of children, and unlike other areas of law, family law issues seldom fit into a “black letter of law” scenario as the Tsimhoni case clearly demonstrates.

It is my belief that the focus of what Ms. Stern is trying to accomplish has been lost in the recent media frenzie. And while it may not appear that way, I believe that Ms. Stern and the Honorable Lisa Gorcyca have the same goal: to accomplish what is best for the children. Both are doing their jobs, and both in my opinion, are truly fine professionals.

Was there a misapplication of the law? Perhaps, but that is for the attorneys of record and the Judge to parse out. While the media attention to this matter has prompted many “experts” to opine – often without full and complete knowledge of the facts – the real emphasis must be on the determination and correct application of the law. It is important that we not detract from the significant legal issue that this case has raised.

The legal question to resolve is whether the law allows, through a summary proceeding, for non-party children to be held in civil contempt.

Speaking on behalf of all the family law attorneys at Hertz Schram, we believe that Judge Gorcyca, presiding over a very difficult case with a long history of significant conflict, did her best to correctly apply the law to the facts and circumstances of the case. The answer to the legal question presented has yet to be answered. Family law issues can be extremely complicated and there are never just two sides to any story. Until all sides in this case are fully heard and understood, we should reserve judgment. Attacks on the court, and on Judge Gorcyca in particular, are completely unwarranted and should never have occurred.

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