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Child custody court case decisions typically are lengthy and complex, and deal with a multitude of legal issues. The following case summaries will generally include only those issues in which religion was a factor. Some summaries may omit issues relevant to the court's decision, but not relevant to the theme of this website.

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SHEILA A. CARR v. BOBBY G. CARR was an ongoing 1974-79 Indiana divorce and child custody case in which BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS for a child became an issue (which 21st century Family Court Judges knowingly falsely claim are an extremely rare occurrence -- so rare that Family Court Judges almost unanimously refuse to consider the issue of blood transfusions when making custody decisions. In fact, the American judicial system is engaged in a conspiracy to ignore this side of the blood transfusion issue, because to acknowledge such would tilt custody decisions nationwide in favor of non-JW Parents. The American judicial system is well aware that the issue of blood transfusions for children arise much more frequently than they will publicly acknowledge. Family Court Judges are well aware of the fact that due to recent privacy legalities these scenarios are no longer documented publicly, nor are they currently available for medical and judicial statistical study.)

Sheila Carr and Bobby Carr, of Indianapolis, Indiana, were divorced in 1975 (the year that the WatchTower Cult was prophesying that Armageddon would occur), with Sheila Carr receiving custody of the couple's two children -- Robert E. Carr, age 17, and Lisa Ann Carr, age 10. In June 1979, Sheila Carr and Bobby Carr agreed that custody of 14 year-old Lisa Carr would return to her Jehovah's Witness Father. Shortly thereafter, under emergency circumstances, Lisa Ann Carr needed an ovarian cyst removed, and the need for a blood transfusion during that surgery was anticipated. Typically, Booby G. Carr refused to grant permission for the blood transfusion, so Indianapolis Community Hospital was forced to seek judicial intervention. A local judge appointed Sheila Carr custodian of Lisa Carr as regards her medical care. Sheila Carr immediately signed the consent form, and the necessary operation was began soon thereafter.


EDGAR DAVIS v. LORETTA DAVIS. In March 1978, a Jehovah's Witness named Edgar Davis, age 37, of Clinton, Ohio, filed for divorce from his Jehovah's Witness Wife, Loretta Davis, age 32, also of Clinton, Ohio. The couple had been married in April 1976, and Loretta Davis had a 9 year-old son from a previous marriage. Loretta Davis contested the divorce action. The Davis couple reconciled after several efforts were made by Loretta Davis. Edgar Davis dropped the lawsuit.

LORETTA DAVIS v. EDGAR DAVIS. In April 1978, Loretta Davis was hospitalized for two days after allegedly suffering a beating by Edgar Davis. In early May 1978, police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Davis home. A handgun was confiscated from Loretta Davis. In latter May 1978, Loretta Davis filed for divorce. A restraining order was issued barring Loretta Davis from going to the marital home --apparently indicating that Edgar Davis owned the home separate from his recently new wife and her son.

OHIO v. LORETTA DAVIS. Only days after filing her divorce suit, Loretta Davis, accompanied by her then 11 year-old son, went to the marital home to pickup some clothes. At the home, Loretta Davis reported a domestic dispute. Responding police broke up an argument between the couple, escorted Loretta Davis from the home, and then watched her drive away before they left. Shortly thereafter, Loretta Davis reported a shooting at the marital home to police, and called for an ambulance. Loretta Davis claimed "self-defense", and alleged that at the home, Edgar Davis had beat her, threw her down a staircase, and then charged her. Thankfully, a loaded, cocked, safety-off shotgun belonging to Edgar Davis just so happened to be within arm's reach. Loretta Davis grabbed the shotgun and fired it into Edgar Davis's groin just as he reached her. Edgar Davis survived for four hours -- going in and out of consciousness. Davis faithfully refused life-saving blood transfusions, and then died of blood loss. Loretta Davis was arrested and charged with felonious assault, but local prosecutors were last known to be considering dropping the case. Outcome unknown.


NOWLIN v. NOWLIN is a 1976 Oklahoma appellate decision in which Justice Brightmire simply could not control his amusement with this Jehovah's Witness appellant. If you read only one case summary on this webpage, be sure you read this one.

In 1967, Bennie Nowlin filed for divorce from Mary Lois Nowlin. Benny Nowlin was granted legal custody of their four minor children, then ranging in age from one to eight years, despite the fact that Bennie's elderly parents, Floyd and Ada Nowlins, would have to care for the children, since Bennie worked away from home. Eight years later, in 1975, Mary Lois Ridenour returned to seek custody of the now much older children. The trial court denied her motion. Mary Ridenour appealed. Writing for the three judge appellate court, Justice Brightmire affirmed, stating in part:
The reason why Bennie sought a divorce in the first place was because the mother, instead of taking care of her four children, fell into the habit of "going out and staying out all night or until real late" [presumably at the local Kingdom Hall] then sleeping all day, requiring Bennie to call upon his parents for child-care help. It was for this same reason that the court placed legal custody of the children in their father.
Between that time and February 24, 1975, when defendant filed her motion to [seek custody], the record contains no great detail about her life. It does show, however, that she twice remarried. The first time was to a man named Barker who sired her fifth child. This marriage was "annulled out in California." The second marriage ended when, after living with her for a while, the man died. Mary testified that after being divorced from Bennie she lived several places, got married once in Las Vegas, worked a little while part-time in a cafe, and before that worked some as a nurse's aide. At the time of filing the motion in question she and her six-year-old son by Barker were occupying an apartment in Wilburton, Oklahoma, living on $180 a month the source of which was $30 from the cafe work and $150 from the welfare department. When questioned about whether she could take care of four more children on that income she said, "Well if the welfare is helping them now, why couldn't they help me then?" ... ...
Defendant's interest in the children is revealed by her testimony that for three years she did not visit them at all and since then she has seen them only once in a while. During a visit a few days before the hearing she took 17-year-old Tammy, the oldest child, aside for a talk. Said Tammy, "She told me she wanted us [the four children] to go with her and that she would get a big four bedroom house and just stuff like that . . . ." But, continued Tammy, "I told her that even if she did I would not go with her." A little later the grandmother came into the room and found Tammy crying. According to the grandparent, "they were all just really upset and Mary used some really bad language," prompting Tammy to say, "I thought you were a Christian." Responded Mary, "Well Jehovah['s] Witnesses are people just the same as anybody else." ... ...
In reading the record one gets the same impression that the trial judge must have received from listening to the live testimony and that is that the natural mother in abandoning the children eight years ago demonstrated a love for them that was perhaps something less than boundless and that her current interest in them arises from a concern for welfare but not necessarily that of the children. ...
The most defendant has attempted to prove here is that she has decided to settle down in Wilburton and involve herself with a religious organization. The implication is that she has stopped running around at night and is willing to devote substantial time and attention to her children whom she alleged in her motion she "loves." While this, to be sure, is a change of conditions it falls short of being a material one. Moreover, defendant has also failed to show how being in her custody would improve the children's lot.
We can hardly keep from wondering about the sincerity of her profession of love when she seems willing to remove the children against their will from the only home most of them can remember having - the same one they had when the divorce was granted. Through the years it has been a home that, though lacking in material things, has not been deficient in achieving for the children genuine affection, self-respect, kindness, and desirable behavioral patterns. At the hearing the children recognized and appreciated the advantages they had and to a child - now ranging in age from 9 to 17 - opposed leaving such an environment and chancing their well-being with a woman who to them was little more than a stranger, a woman who was mother in fact but not in effect. The trial judge wisely declined to separate the youngsters from their established and adequate surroundings. ...


GLORIA K. CISSELL v. DANIEL J. CISSELL was a 1978 Missouri appellate court decision. Married in the late 1960s, Daniel Joseph Cissell and Gloria Kennedean Cissell had their first son born around 1970, while a second son was born around 1973. Both children had been baptized into the Catholic Church. The WatchTower Society was predicting that Armageddon would occur in October 1975, so Gloria Cissell converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Typically, within two years, the marriage was over, and the couple divorced.
Gloria Kennedean was named custodial parent under a shared parenting arrangement whereby Daniel Cissell received temporary custody of his two sons from Saturday morning to Sunday evening for three weekends per month, only four weeks during the summer, on the children's birthdays, every Christmas Eve, and on alternate national legal holidays. Daniel Cissell was also ordered to pay child support, but NOT maintenance to Gloria. Gloria Cissell APPEALED.
First, with regard to maintenance. Gloria Cissell and the two children moved back in with her parents (JWs???) The MISSOURI COURT OF APPEALS affirmed the trial court's decision to NOT grant her maintenance given that both children were now school age, and due to the fact that Gloria Cissell had refused to seek employment because such would take time away from her WatchTower Cult activities and the children.
The MISSOURI COURT OF APPEALS also affirmed the trial court's decision with regard to Daniel Cissell's amount of temporary custody. Gloria Cissell argued that the parenting time granted to Daniel Cissell violated her right to rear the two children as Jehovah's Witnesses, which was her right under Missouri law as the custodial parent. Gloria Cissell argued that as "Jehovah's Witnesses", she and the children did "door-to-door religious work" twice a week and on Saturdays, attended the Kingdom Hall two midweek evenings per week and Sunday mornings, plus she studied with the children every Monday evening in the home.
If anything, the Court of Appeals should have sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether the children's being reared in such a fanatical religious environment was a detriment worthy of extending Daniel Cissell's parenting time.


MORRIS v. MORRIS was a 1979 Pennsylvania appellate court decision. James Morris and Jean Morris Maggs were married in February 1974, in a Roman Catholic ceremony. Lisa Marie Morris was born in August 1974. Prior to Lisa's birth, the couple had agreed that their children would be reared in the Roman Catholic Church, notwithstanding the fact that James Morris was not himself Catholic. Despite this compact, James Morris prohibited Lisa from being baptized a Roman Catholic as a consequence of his own subsequent conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses. The child was later baptized without his knowledge.

The couple separated in November 1976, and divorced in 1977. Custody of Lisa was granted to the mother, and mutually agreeable visitation rights were granted to James Morris. However, in April 1978, Jean Morris Maggs informed James Morris that she objected to his taking Lisa to Sunday meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and taking Lisa to do door-to-door solicitations on behalf of the Jehovah's Witnesses. James Morris ignored the complaint, so Jean Morris Maggs denied him all visitation privileges.
James Morris then brought a habeas corpus action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County. Following an evidentiary hearing conducted in August and September 1978, Judge Greevy issued an order allowing James Morris visitation rights every other weekend, but prohibiting him from taking Lisa on any door-to-door religious solicitations. James Morris now contends that this restriction violates his constitutionally guaranteed rights of privacy and to the free exercise of religion. The appellate court affirmed the order of the trial court, stating in part:
"It is well established that in all cases involving the custody of a child, the paramount consideration is the best interests and welfare of the child. ... Although best interests is necessarily a nebular term, rendering itself amenable to neither simple definition nor application, it embraces the child's physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual well-being. ...
"Presently, we are convinced that embraced within the best interests concept is the stability and consistency of the child's spiritual inculcation. It would be an egregious error for our courts in a custody dispute to scrutinize the ability of the parents to foster the child's emotional development, their capacity to provide adequate shelter and sustenance, and their relative income, yet not review their respective religious beliefs. One need not concur with the biblical injunction that man's needs exceed the simple requirements of the body to acknowledge the impact of religious instruction. Quite apart from any concern with the child's spiritual salvation - and we readily acknowledge the inadequacy of a legal forum to resolve which, if any, creed is superior in effecting that goal - it is beyond dispute that a young child reared into two inconsistent religious traditions will quite probably experience some deleterious physical or mental effects.

"Of course, this conclusion merely begs the question of whether we are constitutionally capable of factoring religion into the best interests equation. Turning to that question, both the weight of authority and established legal principles support the proposition that it is legitimate for a court to examine the impact of the parents' beliefs on the child.
"... our citizens have been constitutionally guaranteed the right to hold any religious belief without interference from the state. ... Coupled with the fact that parents have traditionally been considered to have the primary, or natural, right to control their children's nurture, see Prince v. Massachusetts, ... there has been erected a rampart of privacy about a child's spiritual development as formulated by his parents. ... Nevertheless, while the adoption of a belief is absolutely protected, there exists only a qualified right to act on that belief. ... Cantwell v. Connecticut, ... Thus, as our supreme court reiterated in In Re Green, ... quoting Prince v. Massachusetts,... :
'But the family itself is not beyond regulation in the public interest, as against a claim of religious liberty. ... And neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation. Acting to guard the general interest in youth's well being, the state as parens patriae may restrict the parent's control ... Its authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child's course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds ... .'
"Probably the most graphic example of this intrusion into a nominally sacrosanct area is the power of the state to order a blood transfusion for a critically ill child over the objection of his parents, typically Jehovah's Witnesses. See, e.g., Application of President and Directors of Georgetown College Inc., ... (1964); Jehovah's Witnesses in the State of Washington v. King County Hospital Unit No. 1, (1967), ...; Re Sampson, ... (1972)... (discretion of court to order necessary surgery not limited to mortal illness); In re Green, supra (recognizing rule but refusing application because no evidence child's life was in immediate danger);...
"Appellant would have us accept these cases as support for the proposition that only under the most extreme circumstances, not here manifest, may the state weigh religious preferences. ... In matters of custody, the family unit has already been dissolved, and that dissolution is accompanied by a weakening of the shield constructed against state intervention. A parent cannot flaunt the banner of religious freedom and familial sanctity when he himself has abrogated that unity. Consequently, the courts of this Commonwealth, in accord with those in other jurisdictions, have consistently held that while religious beliefs must not constitute the sole determinant in a child custody award, the court may consider those beliefs in rendering a decree. ... Indeed, the very concept of 'best-interests' would be but a hollow shiboleth were not parental rights to yield to the welfare of the child. As we emphasize again, however, we neither intend to, nor are capable of, rendering a value judgment on the intrinsic truth of the varied religious beliefs, but confine our investigation solely to any detrimental effect their practice may have on the development of the child. We remain loath to tamper in such a delicate area, and while, as indicated by the standard developed infra, our review will be narrowly circumscribed, and action will not be taken on a record supported by mere conjecture, it is clear that such matters should and can be considered. ... ...
"Several other state courts have echoed this rule of allowing the non-custodial parent to provide religious instruction for his child absent a showing of damage to the child's well-being. ... In Robertson, the non-custodial father appealed a lower court order prohibiting him from taking his two sons to any meetings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and from teaching or expressing to them certain religious doctrines. He contended, inter alia, that such an order infringed upon his first amendment privilege to the free exercise of religion. The Washington Court of Appeals vacated the restriction because the quantum of evidence demanded by the Munoz criterion was lacking:
'The record contains only the affidavit of Mrs. Caul [appellee] that the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses "confuse and alarm the children" and "have a detrimental and confusing impact upon their welfare". ... While we do not ignore the possible effect of a child's "confusion" caused by exposure to different religions, Munoz ... requires a factual showing, not mere conclusions and speculations.'
"Appellant's brief ... argues that no evidence was offered which indicated an immediate probability of harm to Lisa. Confronted with such a claim, it is necessary to carefully scrutinize the record for facts supporting the court's decision. ...
"During the hearing, Paul T. Carstetter, an elder of the Jehovah's Witnesses congregation in Williamsport, testified that an active member of the congregation is expected to engage, to the extent of his ability and free time, in door-to-door solicitation and teaching. He stated that there is an absolute obligation on the part of the parents, devolving primarily on the father and unaffected by divorce or separation, to inculcate the child into their religious belief. This education extends to the door-to-door solicitation:
Q. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE]: Is it required of parents that if they undertake to do and become active and do door-to-door work, that they take their children with them?
A. [MR. CARSTETTER]: It's a scriptural requirement and an obligation on the parent himself, between he and his God.

Q. Well, is it a requirement, specifically, that when a parent does missionary work, door-to-door work, that they take their child or children with them?
A. This is at the discretion of the parent and how they understand their responsibility.

Q. Okay. Do you understand that that is a responsibility of your church, that the parent must take the child with them on door-to-door missions?
A. Personally, yes.
Q. Do you feel that that is part of the teaching of Jehovah Witnesses?
A. Yes, sir.
"Appellant described the type of solicitation engaged in as follows:
"Basically, what we do is we prepare ourselves with the Bible and also the Watch Tower and Awake magazines, and we knock at an individual's home and an individual comes to the door and we ask them a little bit about the Bible. We try and start a conversation; usually we try and do it in a sense that it is a carefree conversation, one that does not bring any problems to the mind. But what we try and do is focus on the benefits of what this kingdom is going to bring to mankind. We see so much trouble and turmoil in the world today and we are just trying to share a little bit of happiness with people, from the Bible."
"He testified that he believed it a religious requirement to raise Lisa as a Jehovah's Witness, and such a requirement included the door-to-door teaching. .... It was, further, absolutely necessary to Lisa's salvation and physical well-being:
Q. [COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE]: Would it be fair to say that the harm that you foresee might be described in terms of harm to her eternal being and her soul; you do not envision harm to her physical well being?
A. [APPELLANT]: Her physical well being, that is her soul. Yes, I see if she was to be raised in Catholicism and believe it and fight against the truth about the Bible, she would lose her life.

Q. That is the only harm that you see that - I think you have generalized it; I don't mean you have to give it in detail, but that's the type of harm you see?
A. Well, there could be.

Q. You don't see her being involved in an emotional trauma; you don't see her being involved in physical damage to her body as a result of that, do you?
A. It's quite possible.

Q. Would you envision damage to her physical body because she believed in Catholicism?
A. I just mentioned to you that her life would be lost."
"The critical testimony as to psychological damage was delivered by John H. Bone, a clinical psychologist, who examined Lisa for one-half hour some one month prior to the hearing. He testified that a child of Lisa's age would tend to adopt her parents' beliefs rather than form her own judgments, and that considerable inconsistency in the former would cause the child to disregard the teaching of either parent.
Q. How might that [inconsistent beliefs] manifest itself in her daily relationship with people?
A. This could lead to a very irresponsible type of behavior. From the standpoint that if she gets to the point - if she conceives of regulations and morals and standards as being something that can be debated between two people as important as a mother and a father, then she is going to take lightly any regulation of any kind.

Q. And what, in your - in your opinion, would a period of contradictory teaching be contrary to the best interests of this child?
A. It would be definitely very contrary. The ideal situation would be to have the mother and father living together and teaching a consistent doctrine of one or the other. I'm not evaluating either Jehovah Witnesses' doctrine or Catholicism. But I do believe that the very fact that there is a difference, and there they are debating over it, and they are really fighting a battle over this child's mind.

Q. To the extent that the two religions have consistent moral values, Christian moral values, wouldn't the teaching of those, simultaneously by
both parents, be expected to improve the child's overall moral outlook?
A. Not as long as there would be inconsistencies in addition to the consistencies, because this child is not at an age where she can arrive at conclusions by herself, conclusions that are based on perceptive thinking."
"He also testified that the door-to-door solicitations would probably, although not necessarily, result in some psychological impairment.
"In the light of such testimony, we cannot conclude that the hearing judge erred in restricting visitation. Appellant would contend that the psychiatric testimony did not evidence sufficient probability of harm to the child, whether measured against the standard of Munoz or those developed in conjunction with the medical transfusion cases. See In re Green, supra. We do not agree. First, we reiterate that this question arises in the context of a custody dispute. The state is not extending an Orwellian eye into the private decisions of an intact family unit. Second, we cannot accept an argument that the absence of present harm constricts the court's power to act. Were this the case, we would have to allow the psychological harm to Lisa to progress to a mentally crippling point before action could be taken. With that damage a fait accompli, however, any remedial action would be marginally effective. For our purposes it may be unfortunate, but the state of the art in psychiatry is such that absolute certainty is not possible. Unlike the medical practitioner who can proclaim with reasonable medical certainty that a child will die if not provided with a blood transfusion, the psychiatrist treads in a cryptic area replete with uncertainty. Nevertheless, while we do not expect psychiatrists, or judges, to be prescient, in the absence of more accurate data we consider it necessary to carefully weigh their opinions on the future development of the child. Instantly, Mr. Bone testified that the inconsistent teachings would probably result in some mental disorientation to Lisa. We believe that this is sufficient to override any right appellant may have in draping the whole of his religious beliefs upon the child.

"The order is, at any rate, quite liberal. Appellant is not prohibited from seeing Lisa, nor from discussing his beliefs with her, but only from forcing her to accompany him on his door-to-door visits. Moreover, as with all custody orders, this is temporary in nature, ... and in the event of a change in circumstances, appellant would be entitled to seek an alteration of the conditions. Order affirmed."
GRAY v. GRAY was a 1978 Illinois appellate court decision. Robert Gray and Mary Ann Gray were married in 1965. Mary Ann Gray had two teenage daughters from a previous marriage. Five children were born of the Gray's marriage. (Robert Gray denied he was the father of two of the children.) Mary Ann Gray, and her teenage daughters, were Jehovah's Witnesses. The marriage was a stormy one, and in July 1973, Robert Gray left the marital home and did not again live permanently with the wife, although he continued to visit her and the children for a year or so after that. In July 1974, Robert Gray filed suit for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. Mary Ann Gray counterclaimed for separate maintenance and requested temporary alimony, custody and child support and denied there was any ground for divorce. She also requested exclusive possession "one" of the marital homes. (The couple owned at least two homes in Illinois, and several properties in other states. Division of property occupies much of the opinion.)

The trial court awarded a divorce to the husband and gave custody of the five minor children of the marriage to Mary Ann Gray. Mary Ann Gray was granted alimony as well as support for the children. Robert Gray appealed the award of the custody of the children, etc. Mary Ann Gray appealed that part of the decree awarding the husband a divorce on the ground of mental cruelty, etc. This appellate court stated in part:
"We think the trial court was clearly correct in granting the divorce to the husband. His testimony as to the conduct of the wife was lucid and believable and must have been made entirely credible to the trial court by the irrational and improper behavior of the wife at the trial. The court at one point left the bench and took a recess in order to calm his anger over the arrogant and improper remarks of the wife, both off and on the stand. That the wife was guilty of mental cruelty is quite believable from the testimony on both sides and we have no hesitation in affirming the judgment of divorce on the ground of mental cruelty. It is plain from the testimony that the wife was unreasonable, if not irrational, in some of her judgments, and there was evidence she was not a good housekeeper and she was at times seemingly harsh, and at other times perhaps too lax, in dealing with the children. On the other hand, however, the husband was not in a position to take care of several small children, nor did he wish to take care of two of them, whom he did not acknowledge as his own. Moreover, the husband caused much of the family difficulty to begin with by delaying so long to provide more living space for a family consisting of husband, wife, several infants and two teenage stepdaughters. There is little doubt that this crowding contributed to the chaotic condition of the household which he testified to. His income during these years was apparently sufficient to have afforded more spacious living arrangements, had he wished to do so. It appears to us, therefore, that if the wife was at times irrational as to the character and habits of the husband - whom she characterized as being a homosexual and a racketeer - the husband was also, to some extent, selfish and unresponsive to the best interests of the children. Faced with this situation, we agree with the trial court's ruling that it was in the best interest of the children to leave the custody with the mother. ... ... ...
"Another controversial aspect of the trial court's division of the marital assets concerns its finding that the wife owed the husband a $9,000 credit from the proceeds of the Appleton bank savings account. The account was admittedly in the name of the wife only and she contended the fund was her property alone, and even if most of the deposits in the account came from the husband, they were a gift and not joint property. The husband, however, contended he had allowed the deposits to be made in an already existing account in the wife's name just to preserve domestic peace, but that the funds all came from him and both parties understood the account was intended to be a joint one. Apparently the court concluded from the wife's evasiveness on this point and her refusal to allow the source of the funds to be traced and disclosed, that the husband was telling the truth as to the intention of the parties and he treated one-half of the funds as being subject to a resulting trust in the husband's favor. Since the wife admittedly had little or no income during the years when the account was being built up, it seems probable that the funds in question did come from the husband. The court's ruling that the fund was intended to be a joint one does not, therefore, seem to be inequitable. ... ... ...
"At oral argument on appeal it was disclosed that there have been certain developments subsequent to the decree in connection with the minor children. As this is not a part of the record on this appeal, these events cannot be the basis for any decision here. If a post-decree motion, based on such subsequent developments is felt to be justified, it should be made by the party interested, before the trial court.

"This was a complicated and tedious case, rendered even more difficult by evasive testimony, at times, on the part of both parties, and by the contumacious behavior, at times, of the wife. The trial court's patience was obviously strained, but it is apparent he proceeded throughout with the best interest of the minor children in mind and attempted to apportion the property rights as equitably as might be done, within the practical limits of providing for dependent minors. It is a complicated decree because the situation of the parties was a complex one, but we believe the trial court patiently and conscientiously attempted to and did do justice between the parties.


ROBERTSON v. ROBERTSON was a 1978 Washington appellate court decision. Laurence Robertson, a noncustodial father, appealed a trial court order prohibiting him from taking his two sons to any meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses and from teaching or expressing to them to WatchTower religious doctrines during his visitation periods. He contended that this part of the trial court order restraining him from participating in the religious training of his children constitutes a manifest abuse of discretion, violates the Washington statute governing visitation rights, and infringes on the free exercise of his religion in violation of the first amendment to the United States Constitution. The appellate court agreed, and reversed and remanded, stating in part:
"In Munoz v. Munoz, ... (1971), the Supreme Court held that: 'the courts should maintain an attitude of strict impartiality between religions and should not disqualify any applicant for custody or restrain any person having custody or visitation rights from taking the children to a particular church, except where there is a clear and affirmative showing that the conflicting religious beliefs affect the general welfare of the child'.

"In 1973, the legislature enacted [state law] which provides in part: 'The court may modify an order granting or denying visitation rights whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child but the court shall not restrict a parent's visitation rights unless it finds that the visitation would endanger the child's physical, mental, or emotional health'.

"Thus, there must be a showing in the record and a finding by the court that the requirements of Munoz and [state law] were met. In this regard, the record contains only the affidavit of Mrs. Caul wherein she states that the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses 'confuse and alarm [the] children' and 'have a detrimental and confusing impact upon [their] welfare' and that the specific precept of nonobservance of holidays 'causes a great deal of trauma for the children at school because they feel guilty ...' While we do not ignore the possible effect of a child's 'confusion' caused by exposure to different religions, Munoz and [state law] require a factual showing, not mere conclusions and speculation. In the absence of a clear and affirmative showing that the conflicting religious beliefs affect the general welfare of the children, the restrictive order of the trial court relating to religious training cannot be upheld. ... ... ...
"The cause is remanded for the taking of evidence on the effect upon the children, if any, of exposure to conflicting religious doctrines."


WAITES v. WAITES was a 1978 Missouri Supreme Court decision. Charles R. Waites, Jr., and Karon M. Waites were married in Raytown, Missouri in October 1971. Evidently, both Charles and Karon grew up in the area, since all of their parents lived nearby. Charles had served in the United States Marine Corps - possibly in Vietnam. Charles' father was also probably a USMC veteran, since he was very patriotic, and he had a collection of firearms. Charles earned his living as a Police Officer - having been employed by two or more of the smaller communities. The Waites were members of a local Baptist Church. Shelley R. Waites was born first in July 1974.

The Waites were evidently happily married and living the normal Missouri life -- until IT happened. The Jehovah's Witnesses convinced Karon Waite that Armageddon was going to happen on or soon after October 1975, which was the date that Karon converted and got re-baptized. The Waites marriage evidently had begun to fall apart even earlier -- as soon as Karon had become interested in the WatchTower religion, and had started the WatchTower six-month study plan toward conversion. It was Karon's new religion, new beliefs, new attitudes, etc. that brought about the Waites first separation in 1975. Charles' father called Karon a "traitor". Charles and Karon reconciled long enough to conceive a second daughter, but separated for the second and final time in February 1976. Monica L. Waites was born in June 1976.
In July 1976, Karon sued for divorce and custody of their two daughters. Charles countered likewise. There being no dispute concerning the dissolution of marriage, the evidence offered at trial was directed primarily to the issue of custody of the two minor children. In February 1977, the trial court entered its Findings of Fact, including the following:
15. That the primary beliefs and the doctrines professed by the petitioner which created problems between respondent and petitioner are as follows:
(a) Petitioner does not believe in blood transfusion, even if necessary to save the life of one of her daughters;

(b) Petitioner does not believe in saluting the flag;

(c) Petitioner does not believe in celebrating birthdays;

(d) Petitioner does not believe in celebrating the Nation's birthday or any national holidays;

(e) Petitioner does not believe in celebrating relative's birthdays;

(f) Petitioner does not believe in celebrating Christmas;

(g) Petitioner believes that all governments are under the control of Satan;

(h) Petitioner believes that all other forms of religion other than Jehovah's Witnesses are false religions;

(i) Petitioner believes that all governments and all other false religions stand in the way of world peace;

(j) Petitioner believes that all military bodies are instruments of the devil;

(k) Petitioner would not use life threatening physical force even to save the life of her child;

(l) Petitioner literally believes in the doctrine of Armageddon and believes that only members of the Jehovah's Witnesses will be spared from the holocaust and believes this holocaust shall occur during her lifetime.
18. That the present beliefs of petitioner are contrary to the beliefs mutually enjoyed by both of the parties prior to her conversion to the Jehovah's Witnesses denomination of the Christian religion.

19. That according to the principles professed by petitioner, [husband] is an "unbeliever."

20. That petitioner acknowledged as authoritative and true and professed and stipulated a belief in the doctrines set forth in respondent's Exhibit No. 2, "The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life." At page 131 of said Exhibit it is stated as follows:
"If you love truth and righteousness, then you will also hate and avoid what is false and displeasing to God."

"(Pg. 132) Because there can be no proper fellowship between those practicing righteousness and those practicing lawlessness, God commands: 'Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves.' "

21. That petitioner has acknowledged and would raise her two infant daughters of tender years in the doctrines and beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses and command their attendance at all meetings and functions until they were approximately sixteen years of age.

22. That by the defined doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses denomination of the Christian religion, [husband] would be considered an unbeliever, follower of a false religion and practicer of pagan rituals.

23. That upon the court's inquiry, petitioner acknowledged that she does not believe in participating in governmental functions of voting and that this is a belief of her religion.
The trial court's Conclusions of Law included the following:
3. The primary factors set forth in Revised Statutes of Missouri 452.375 in determining the custody of children is the best interest of the child and include, among other things, the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his parents, his siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests and the child's adjustment to his home, school and community.

4. That the children of this marriage are of tender and impressionable years and it can be reasonably expected that, if raised under the indoctrinations which petitioner-wife professes they will be, it would not be in their best interest for the following reasons:
(a) That the children's health is severely threatened by reason of petitioner's refusal to agree to blood transfusions when needed;

(b) The children's affection for their father and, therefore, his rights of visitation and companionship and respect would necessarily be alienated because of the father's alleged pagan activities and belief in an allegedly false religion;

(c) The children's association with other members of their family, i. e., grandparents, etc., would be significantly affected for the reasons set forth in Subparagraph (b) above;

(d) The children's adjustment to their home, school and community would be adversely affected in that they would not be allowed to participate and develop normally in the school and community relationship;

(e) That the children's growth and development as productive citizens within our society would be hampered.
5. Petitioner has love for the children and attempts to properly provide for them. However, her beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness comes first, and by her actions and beliefs she is jeopardizing the health, welfare and best interests of the children.

6. That respondent-husband is a fit and proper person for the care and custody of the two minor children.

7. That the best interest and welfare of the minor children of the parties would be best served by placing said children in the care, custody and control of respondent-husband.

8. That petitioner wife should not, at this time, be required to pay respondent-husband any sum of money towards the support of said minor children.

9. That petitioner-wife should be granted the right to visit with said minor children at all reasonable and proper times.
The trial court awarded custody of two minor children to the father based on the evidence and testimony presented at trial. Karon Waites appealed. The Missouri Supreme Court trounced the trial court's decision. The case was remanded with orders for custody to be granted to Karon Waites, along with appropriate child support, and visitation for Charles. Read the entire opinion and concurring opinion for many, many more situational details, as well as the legal reasoning.


WAITES v. JUDY MARSHALL and INDEPENDENCE MISSOURI CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES. In a little known footnote to the WAITES v. WAITES divorce, Charles Waites also filed a civil lawsuit for $2,500,000.00 in damages against the Jehovah's Witnesses East Congregation of Independence, Missouri, and the individual JW Female, named Judy Marshall, who was responsible for the conversion of Karon Waites. Waites alleged that Marshall and the Congregation were the driving forces behind the breakup of his marriage. Although the details are uncertain, it appears that there was a jury trial in which the jury held for Charles Waites only against Judy Marshall, for "alienation of affection", in the amount of $75,000.00. However, the trial judge apparently overruled the jury's decision.

URBAND v. URBAND was a 1977 California appellate court decision. Richard A. Urband appealed from that part of the divorce decree which awarded to Suzan E. Urband custody of the parties' nine-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. The appellate court affirmed, stating in part:
"Richard contends that the custody award was an abuse of discretion; the argument is that Suzan's religious belief as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect render her unfit to have custody. Specifically, it is complained that she would not consent to a blood transfusion if some future hypothetical accident or illness created a medical necessity for such treatment, that she would not permit the children to participate in competitive sports, and that she would not permit them to participate conventionally in certain holidays. This contention cannot be sustained. There was uncontradicted evidence that Suzan is a devoted mother. There was no compelling evidence that her religious beliefs and observances would be harmful to the children. The report of the probation officer recommended that the children be placed with her.
"The determination of child custody rests with the discretion of the trial court; such an exercise of discretion is not to be disturbed on appeal in the absence of a showing of [the court's] abuse. ..."
This case is just one more example of a non-JW Parent who goes into court with the assumption that all they have to do is present evidence of WatchTower beliefs and practices, and then the court will fully comprehend such, and fully understand the detrimental impact such beliefs and practices will have on the children as they grow up. That may occasionally fly before a conservative court, but will lose in a liberal court or be overturned by a liberal appellate court. Non-JW Parents must present expert testimony which demonstrates the realistic potential for harm, if not existing harm.


CLIFT v. CLIFT was a 1977 Alabama appellate court decision. Jack Clift and Renee Bissell Clift met at the University of Alabama, and after a courtship of approximately four years, were married in December 1970. Their son, John Thomas Clift, was born in December 1971. The couple lived in a residence on a small farm in Madison County, Alabama, which was adjacent to a large farm owned by Jack Clift's parents. The couple were nominal Southern Baptists, who typically attended church only a few times a year, probably during holidays.

In 1972, Renee Bissell Clift joined the Jehovah's Witnesses, who at that time were predicting Armageddon would occur in October 1975. Jack Clift did not become affiliated. By March 1976, the couple's marital relationship had so deteriorated that the wife left her husband. She took their child, John, with her. In March 1976, she filed for divorce, and sought custody of John. At trial, both parties presented negative testimony about the other.
Testimony revealed that subsequent to the separation, Renee Bissell Clift and John Clift shared a bedroom in her mother's six bedroom home. Renee Bissell Clift's mother was an unemployed schoolteacher, who was also a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. In addition to Renee Bissell Clift, John Clift, and the mother, four other individuals lived in the mother's house. Renee Bissell Clift's two sisters, ages 25 and 14, her younger brother, and a seventeen year old who had been placed with her mother by the Department of Pensions and Security. The 25 year old sister worked as a "nanny" for another couple taking care of their children. The 14 year old sister attended public school. The 16 year old brother does not attend public school, but is enrolled in a correspondence school. The 17 year old also attends public school. Renee Bissell Clift had never be employed outside the home, and did not have training to become employed. Thus, the record reveals that the only employed member of this family of Jehovah's Witnesses was the 25 year old sister.
In contrast, Jack Clift managed and supervised the farming of his father's large farm and his own small farm. Although he did not earn a large amount of money, his income was sufficient and consistent to support his family. According to Jack Clift, the nature of his work would allow him to spend approximately 75% of his time with his son, John. He stated that he had hired laborers to do most of the actual farming and that his duties were principally managerial and supervisory in nature. Renee Bissell Clift confirmed that prior to the separation, the husband and child spent more time together than did father and child in the average home. Jack Clift testified that if he were awarded custody of the child they would continue to live in the house on the farm. He stated that there were streams and ponds on the farm where he and the child could fish. He noted that his parents' house was approximately 4 1/2 miles away, and they had a swimming pool and horses which were freely accessible to John and him. He stated that on those occasions when he would be unable to be with John, three options were available to him. His mother could care for the child; or his sister and her husband who were building a home two miles from his residence and who had two boys, ages 6 and 3, could keep John. He said he also had looked into the possibility of sending John to a nursery school operated by a Baptist Church in Madison, Alabama. The trial court also allowed testimony and questioning regarding Renee Bissell Clift's beliefs and activities as a Jehovah's Witness:
"She stated that she does not celebrate Christmas; that she would not have a birthday party for the child; and that she would not give him a birthday present as such, although she might otherwise give him gifts. She admitted having made statements to the husband within a year prior to the divorce to the effect that all churches and governmental organizations were led by the devil, and that she therefore would not vote or otherwise participate in the electoral process. She said she hoped that she would be able to teach the child not to kill and, if necessary, to prove himself a conscientious objector in court to enforce this conviction and avoid military service. She also stated that she would teach the child to respect and obey the law. Jehovah's Witnesses apparently believe that the end of the world is imminent, and in conjunction with this belief, the appellant-wife stated her belief that long range plans are unnecessary and fruitless. She was uncertain as to whether she would have already begun a college education fund for the child, as had the appellee-husband."
 When asked about whether her WatchTower religious beliefs prohibited her from allowing John to receive a blood transfusion, she responded:
"If placed in the situation, again, all I can say is, in my heart I say I would not give him blood; but, in actuality, I don't know what I would do until I am faced with that. I can't say what I will do. That's all I can say. Even for my own self, I don't know what I would do."
Prior to rendering his decree, the trial judge stated: "Now, when I deal with the custody of this child, the Court, of course, must not do it on a religious basis as has been mentioned in this case many times. I should not deny the mother custody of the child because she is a Jehovah's Witness, and I should not deny the father custody of the child because he is a Baptist. If either of these religions by proof should show that there is something that may happen to the child that is not in its best interest, of course, the Court should consider it and the Court has considered it."

The divorce was granted and the custody of the child was awarded to Jack Clift. Renee Bissell Clift was given visitation privileges on the first and third weekend of each month and from June 15 through July 31 of each year. Holiday custody privileges were equally divided between the parties.
Renee Bissell Clift appealed. The appellate court "AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED IN PART AND REMANDED WITH
DIRECTIONS", stating in part:
"... appellant-wife contends that the trial court erred to reversal in allowing introduction of evidence pertaining to her religious beliefs. She contends that consideration of such evidence in a child custody proceeding is an unconstitutional infringement on her right to pursue religious beliefs of her choice. Authorities she cites for this proposition do not support her contention.

"66 A.L.R.2d 1410, 1413-14, states: 'The view taken in the great majority of the decisions which have touched upon the matter seems to be that while the courts in a child custody proceeding cannot pass upon the comparative merits of various religions and controlling effect must be given to the temporal welfare of the child, religious questions may well be bound up in the issue of temporal welfare and, if so, may properly be considered by the court.'

"Similarly, it has been said: 'Religion may be an element in the award of custody of infants insofar as it remains a secondary factor to be considered along with all other circumstances weighed to promote the child's best interest and general welfare; in no case may religion be the sole basis upon which a parent or other person is to be deprived of custody.' ... We deem this to be the applicable statement of the law.

"The Constitution guarantees that citizens of the United States shall be free to pursue the religious beliefs of their choice. Consonant with this First Amendment right, courts have repeatedly declared that religious beliefs alone shall not constitute the sole determinant in child custody awards. ...
"However, that one's religious beliefs may not serve as the sole consideration in a child custody proceeding does not necessarily preclude exploration into those beliefs. In this state, as in other jurisdictions, the ultimate consideration in determining the proper custody of the child is what is in his best interests. ... Religious beliefs are as diverse as the individuals who comprise the citizenry of this country. Unfortunately, some of these beliefs embrace philosophies which, contrary to being in the best interests of the child, might actually imperil his physical or mental health. Albeit courts are forbidden from weighing the merits of the religious tenets of the various faiths, they nevertheless are not precluded from inquiring into the beliefs of the parties who are seeking custody of the child in order to insure that such beliefs do not endanger the child.

"'When custody of a child is in issue, the court has a narrow scope of inquiry regarding the religious concepts of the parents: Does the prospective custodian hold views which might reasonably be considered dangerous to the child's health or morals? Thus a court would be warranted in denying custody to a parent whose religious notions would prevent such child's receiving vaccinations or blood transfusions." (Welker v. Welker, ... 1964)'
"Where the court prohibited from hearing all testimony regarding religious beliefs, it would never learn of any religious ideas which might reasonably be construed as inimical to the child. We hold that questions concerning religious convictions, when reasonably related to the determination of whether the prospective custodian's convictions might result in physical or mental harm to the child, are proper considerations for the trial court in a child custody proceeding.
"Applying this standard to the facts of this case shows the trial court erred. Questions regarding the celebration of Christmas and birthdays or relating to participation in the electoral process or military service are not within the ambit of religious views which may reasonably be construed as endangering the mental or physical health of the child.

"However, as shown infra, we do not deem the admission of this evidence to mandate reversal; for the decree of the trial court is supported by other evidence. ...
"Appellant-wife contends that the trial court deprived her of custody of her child solely on the basis of her religious convictions. She also states that the trial court erred by awarding custody of a child of tender years to the father, in the absence of a showing that she was unsuitable or unfit to have custody. We disagree.

"That testimony concerning one parent's religious convictions has been introduced does not warrant reversal of the trial court's decree awarding custody to the other parent when the decree is sustainable on other evidence.
"In Salvaggio, the trial court changed custody of a child from her father and the latter's second wife to the child's natural mother, her father's first wife. The trial court made the following findings of fact:

"'During all the time Lee Salvaggio [father] had the custody of the child he has cared for her with kindness and attention, and has provided a home for the child and also has adequately provided for all her physical needs. Both Lee Salvaggio and his present wife are devoted to the child and have given it love and care. ... Lee Salvaggio is a fit and proper person to have the custody of his child except that he and his present wife, because of their belief that the Bible requires it, propose to teach [the child] that it is wrong to salute the American Flag, and that it is wrong to celebrate and exchange gifts at Christmas and that it is wrong to kill others even in defense of the United States. Lee Salvaggio did not formerly follow such beliefs and was in the late war during which time he was in several battles and saluted the flag.'
"The court's 'Conclusions of Law' stated: 'The Court is of the opinion that conditions affecting the welfare of [the child] since the rendition of the decree of divorce have materially changed so that it is now to the best interests of said child that her natural mother ... should have the custody of said child. ... The changes of condition affecting the welfare of such child include the change in the financial circumstances of [the mother] and her ability to provide a suitable home for her child. However, in arriving at its conclusions, the Court is primarily influenced by the proposed teachings of Lee Salvaggio and his present wife with reference to saluting the flag, fighting in defense of the United States and celebration of Christmas. ...' ... ... ...
"Here, the trial court specifically stated that its decree was not predicated solely on religious convictions, although it did point out that they had been considered. The evidence reveals that the husband will be able to spend approximately 75% of his time with his son. They will live on a farm where they will be able to fish and go horseback riding together. Appellee-husband has had a stable income for five years and will be able to adequately provide for the physical needs of his son. On those occasions when he cannot be physically present with the child, John will be able to stay with his grandmother, aunt and two cousins, or in a day nursery.

"On the other hand, the mother's economic future is uncertain. She is untrained and has not worked since the marriage of the parties. There was no showing of what custody arrangements were likely if she obtained employment. In any event, it does not appear that she would be able to spend 75% of her time with John, as would appellee-husband. More evidence for affirmance of the trial court's decree is contained herein than was present in Salvaggio, supra, a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari. ... Also, see Battaglia v. Battaglia, ... ... ...
" ... 'All things being equal, the mother is presumed to be best fitted to guide and care for children of tender years.' ... Here, we cannot say all things are equal. As previously stated, the mother will presumably be compelled to work and be away from the child. At its inception, the presumption of a mother's being best suited to care for a child of tender years was premised on a different society, wherein the mother's place was in the home where she attended to the children. ... In a case such as this, where the father's work will enable him to spend 75% of his time with his child and the mother, should she find employment, would quite likely be separated from the child, the presumption is not to be accorded the significance it might in other circumstances.

"Moreover, appellee-husband has been engaged in the business in which he has demonstrated a capacity to earn a reasonably stable income. He has already begun planning for the child's future. He has made arrangements for someone to keep John in those instances when physical separation is necessary.

"Appellant-wife, to the contrary, is doubtful as to what the future holds for her. She is currently untrained and is uncertain what type employment she may eventually find. Although tentative, it seems certain she will be required to work. Custody arrangements for the child at such time were not revealed.

"Child custody may be altered at any time upon a showing of changed circumstances. Presently, however, the record does not reveal the plain error or manifest injustice such as to warrant reversal. ... ."


DORANN C. CLOUD v. GEORGE W. CLOUD was a mid-1970s Kentucky-Michigan divorce and custody battle. In September 1970, a 20 year-old Jehovah's Witness named Dorann Chase, of Mount Vernon, Kentucky, daughter of JW Mother Esther L. Chase, married a non-JW named George W. Cloud, whom had briefly attended congregation meetings at the Mount Vernon, Kentucky Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses shortly prior to the marriage, and stopped soon thereafter. Christopher Shane Cloud was born to the couple in July 1972. By 1976-77, this mixed religion couple were having problems, and this divorce was filed. In 1977, Dorann Cloud's parents sold their home and relocated faraway to Michigan, where they were soon joined by their daughter and grandson. The out-of-state relocation of Dorann Cloud and Christopher S. Cloud apparently was not reported to Husband-Father George Cloud given the fact that by Summer 1978, George W. Cloud began placing advertisements in a local newspaper which offered a CASH REWARD to anyone knowing the whereabouts of Dorann Cloud, Lawrence R. Chase, and Esther L. Chase. Outcome unknown.


JOHNSON v. JOHNSON was a 1977 Alaska Supreme Court decision, which involved Rudy Johnson and Linda Johnson. The Johnsons were married in 1966, and a daughter, April, was born in 1968, and their son, Darrin, was born in 1970. Sometime in the early 1970s, both Rudy and Linda converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. However, in 1974, Rudy was excommunicated for the high crime of smoking cigarettes, and he thereafter attempted to convince Linda to quit the JWs, which she refused to do. (Armageddon was coming in October 1975.) Their marriage fell apart, and in April 1975, Rudy filed for divorce. The two children were temporarily placed in his custody, pending trial.
The heart of Rudy's case was that if he were denied custody of the two children that he would have virtually no input into their lives, because of his disfellowshipped status within the Jehovah's Witness community in which Linda acknowledged that she would rear Rudy's children. Testimony was adduced at trial that since a disfellowshipped member of the Jehovah's Witnesses is believed to be under, or in danger of coming under, satanic control, members of the congregation will not associate with him. Rudy also introduced evidence that his children's development would be better served by an award of their custody to him. Dr. LaVere Edwin Clawson, a psychologist, and his wife Darleen Morel, a family counselor, concluded that the children should be awarded to their father since he appeared more willing to offer them "increased exposure to the usual experiences of children their age." Rudy testified to the same effect, stating that Linda had not taught the children such simple tasks as counting money, washing themselves, and helping to clean around the house. He also emphasized the fact that Linda would not allow the children to celebrate holidays, birthdays or allow them to join such organizations as the Brownies. She also did not believe in college for the children. The trial court, in extensive findings of fact, concluded that both parents were fit to have custody of the children, but awarded custody of both minor children to Linda Johnson based on the "tender years presumption".
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the trial court's use of the "tender years presumption" to determine custody was no longer proper in Alaska, but rather that the "best interests" test, which would incorporate elements of the "tender years presumption", was the standard that should have been used by the trial court. However, the Supreme Court also pointed out that Rudy's case for custody centered around the fact that Linda's plan to raise the children in strict accordance with the WatchTower Society's rules and decrees would not serve the children's best interest. The court pointed out that such factor also could not be the sole determining factor in deciding custody, or such would violate Linda's constitutional right to freedom of religion. However, various elements of such could be weighed while using the "best interests" test. Remanded for impartial reconsideration of these rulings, so long as Linda was granted custody and Rudy received visitation.
McCARREL v. McCARREL was a 1971-77 Illinois divorce case which involved Donald McCarrel and Carol McCarrel. Limited details. The McCarrels had been married in 1968, but 30 months later, in 1971, Donald McCarrel successfully sued for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. At some unknown point in the marriage, "Jehovah's Witnesses" became an issue. This case sounds as if this couple may have possibly even been reared as JWs given that rather than leaving well enough alone, Carol McCarrel appealed, won (1974), and participated in a 1976 retrial in which she was awarded the divorce and certain assets. Both parties appealed that decision. Outcome unknown.
SAMUEL CORTEZ GARDNER v. JERLYN GARDNER was a 1974 Michigan divorce case which shows that NO HUSBAND's marriage is safe after his wife converts to the WatchTower Cult. After six years of marriage, in 1974, Detroit Recorder's Court Judge Samuel C. Gardner, then 42 years-old, filed for a divorce from his 26 year-old African-American Jehovah's Witness Wife, Jerlyn Gardner (aka Jerlyn Charles), despite the fact that the couple had just had their first child, a son named Samuel Cortez Gardner II. Samuel Gardner testified, "She took the position that since I refused to become a Jehovah's Witness that I was some kind of devil. And when I became involved in politics, that was intensified."
Only a few years after this divorce, Jerlyn Gardner married Wesley Charles, of Ypsilanti, Michigan, who was likely a fellow Jehovah's Witness given the divorce circumstances. Wesley and Jerlyn Charles had 5-6 more children of their own. Over the decades, a number of different and various type construction businesses have been operated by the Charles Family out of their private residence -- having the appearance of a minority-owned business which specializes in taking advantage of government bid contracts which are required to be given to minority-owned businesses. The latest corporation, WESS CONSTRUCTION INC., is currently embroiled in a lawsuit styled, Operating Engineers Local 324 Fringe Benefit Funds Et Al v. Wesley Charles, Jerlyn Charles, and Wess Construction Inc.
Son, Brandon Wesley Charles, age 28, a street-level drug dealer, was MURDERED by fellow Detroit THUGS on January 29, 2013. Brandon W. Charles and his baby-mama already had been shot multiple times on January 1, 2013, NEW YEARS EVE, after leaving the MGM Casino, in Detroit. The same THUGS, afraid of that prosecution, lured Brandon Charles to a supposed drug deal, where they finished the job. Comments posted to his obituary contain WatchTower-specific buzz words and phrases.
McCLAREN v. McCLAREN was a 1974 Kansas Supreme Court decision. David McClaren and Sandra Bratcher were each reared on farms near Lewis, Kansas. Each was a member of a highly respected family in that community. David McClaren farmed with his father, and upon completion of high school devoted full time to that occupation. Sandra was a Methodist, David a Jehovah's Witness. After David McClaren graduated from high school, he started dating Sandra when she entered high school, and they continued to date intermittently for about two years. Sandra became pregnant by David and, although Sandra was reluctant to enter into that which she considered a forced marriage, the couple was wed in September 1960. They had two children, a son born in 1961, and a daughter born in 1963.

Difficulties based on religious differences between Sandra's Methodist Church upbringing and the WatchTower Society surfaced early in the marriage. Sandra testified that despite her best efforts to do so she was unable to adjust to the 5 weekly meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, and the door-to-door recruiting required by the WatchTower Society, and she never converted to that faith.

The religious differences, plus the fact David McClaren worked long hours in carrying on large-scale farming operations so as to limit their mutual activities, appear to have been focal points in the eventual marriage breakdown. For some time prior to the divorce Sandra McClaren acknowledged she had had adulterous relations with two different men; the latest of which she married after the divorce.
In May 1972, the trial court found each party was in equal fault for the marriage failure, that they were incompatible and each was granted a divorce from the other because of their equal fault. The court awarded custody of both children to Sandra McClaren with liberal visitation rights given David McClaren.
David McClaren appealed, asserting the trial court erred in awarding to Sandra custody of the two children in view of her admitted misconduct and the stated preference of the son to be with his father. This Supreme Court disagreed, stating in part:
"Marital misconduct such as adultery is a pertinent factor to be considered in a divorce proceeding in determining which parent should be awarded custody of the parties' children but it is not in and of itself the controlling factor.

"In Greene this court also stated: 'A child's preference in custody matters may, of course, be considered as an aid to the court in making a proper order. ... Such preference, however, is always subordinate to the over-all best interests and welfare of the child. Thus, when there are objective factors affecting the child's welfare that are contrary to his wishes, the latter must yield to the former.'

"The trial court heard much testimony by knowledgeable persons respecting custody and its memorandum reveals careful consideration of the issue. The weight of that evidence, including the testimony of some witnesses called by David, was that Sandra, despite her indiscretions, had devoted much time and attention to the children and had provided them with good care. It is true that one psychologist recommended David be given the boy's custody, this based principally on psychological tests given to the boy and upon his expressed preference. The trial court was not bound to base its decision upon this testimony. It did consider this evidence. This expert had no factual background on the two parents nor had he made any testing of them. Another psychologist recommended that custody of the daughter be granted Sandra. The trial court expressed concern that divided custody would add to the emotional instability of the children resulting from the breakup of their home. Award of custody of the children in David would have resulted in his sister, who was in ill health, and his seventy-seven year old mother having the principal daily responsibility for looking after the children.

"The trial court made no finding of unfitness on the part of Sandra. It specifically found the best interests of the children would be served by awarding her their custody. It clearly appears religious beliefs were not a factor in the findings made. Everything considered, we cannot say the trial court abused sound discretion in this respect.


LEBOWITZ v. LEBOWITZ was a 1972-4 Pennsylvania custody case which involved Leonard Lebowitz, Marilyn Lebowitz, and their children: Marci, age 14; Richard, age 13; and Donna, age 11. The Lebowitzs had been happily married since 1956. Leonard Lebowitz owned and operated a Philadelphia area Auto Insurance Company (not agency). Trouble erupted around 1971, when Marilyn Lebowitz started studying with the local Jehovah's Witnesses. Leonard Lebowitz was opposed to the thought of his wife joining the JWs, and he put her out of the house in 1971, in an attempt to get her to change her mind. Marilyn Lebowitz was ordered out a second time in October 1972, so she went to live with a JW family named Cohen, and the divorce and custody battle ensued. There were appeals made by both parties in 1973 and 1974, and details are limited, but apparently the appellate court ruled that when a husband refuses to permit his wife to practice whichever religion that she likes, then such is adequate legal cause for her to leave her husband. Custody decision unknown.
MOLLISH v. MOLLISH was a 1972 Tennessee appellate court decision. Certiorari denied by Tennessee Supreme Court on April 16, 1973. John Mollish and Doris Ann Mollish were married in 1968. At the time of the divorce trial, John Mollish was 30 years of age and Doris Ann Mollish was 27 years of age, and they had one daughter, 22 months of age. At the time the couple was married, John Mollish was a member of the Catholic faith, and Doris Ann Mollish was a member of the Lutheran Church. Doris Ann Mollish was active in her church work, attended church every Sunday, taught a Sunday school class, acted as church secretary, and assisted with the children's nursery at the church. The difference in the religious faiths of the parties created no problem, and when their child was born it was baptized in both the Lutheran Church and in the Catholic Church.
However, a year or so before the filing of this divorce [1971-72], Doris Ann Mollish became interested in the Jehovah's Witnesses.After studying their teachings, and attending some of their meetings, she renounced her affiliation with the Lutheran Church, and became a member of Jehovah's Witnesses [Readers should be aware that at this time, the WatchTower Society was predicting Armageddon would occur in October 1975. Many people flocked to their ranks after the JWs started teaching this in 1966].

According to Doris Ann Mollish, John Mollish objected to Doris Ann Mollish's attending meetings or being affiliated with Jehovah's Witnesses because he didn't believe in a lot of things they taught. As time passed, Doris Ann Mollish became more devout in her new-found religion, and John Mollish's objection became more severe. John Mollish set out on a course of conduct to force his wife to give up her membership in the JWs. He would not permit any of the members of the organization to come to their home and, on occasions when they would come by to pick up his wife to take her to meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, they would have to wait for her at the highway. John Mollish would burn or destroy all of his wife's WatchTower literature, including her WatchTower Bible. John Mollish would forbid his wife to attend WatchTower meetings, and on one occasion when she wanted to attend he forceably restrained her. On another occasion when she told him she was going to a meeting, he became enraged, turned over a table and a chair, and physically whipped Doris Ann Mollish. At another time, after the couple had agreed that they would invite the priest of John's church and the elders of Doris's church to their home in an effort to resolve some of their differences, the priest did not show, but the elders were there for a few minutes, and after they left the John asked Doris why she invited those people into his house, then departed and stayed away from home all night. The following day, when Doris Mollish told her husband she was going to a WatchTower meeting, he told her he would take her, but instead of taking her to the meeting he drove 16 miles out into the country. When he stopped, she got out of the car and he drove off and left her. John Mollish would refuse to have sexual relations with his wife, in spite of her solicitous overtures. He would tell her that if they were going to live together she would have to get out of the church; that it was a choice between him and her religion. He stopped talking to Doris, and started staying away from home until late hours at night, claiming he had been fishing. But when she asked him about his fishing tackle, he would turn and walk away. Because Doris Ann Mollish refused to give up her religion, John Mollish filed suit for divorce and custody of their child, alleging cruel and inhuman treatment.
According to John Mollish, the marriage was reasonably happy until about eight months prior to his filing for divorce. It was then that his wife started "to toy with the idea of changing her church affiliation from that of a Lutheran to that of a Jehovah's Witness." Mollish alleged that his wife would go to WatchTower meetings at least once a week, and take their baby ,and stay until almost midnight. The proof showed that these meetings would last only about two hours, and Doris Mollish would be home by 9:30 or ten o'clock. Doris Mollish went to Louisiana, stating that she needed to get away for a while, but he learned that she had attended a Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses while there. The proof showed that Doris Mollish went to Louisiana to visit her mother and sister, and did attend a meeting while there, but did not make this trip for the purpose of attending such meeting [give me a break!]. John alleged that Doris was high tempered and on occasion had cursed him, and told him that she didn't love him, and that she hated him. Doris denied that she had ever cursed John since she had embraced her new religion, and the extent of John's testimony on this allegation was that on an occasion when he was forceably restraining her from leaving the home to attend a WatchTower meeting she had said, "Damn you." Doris Mollish admitted that on one occasion she told John that she hated him, but this was after John had wrecked their car while drinking and, instead of purchasing another car for family use, he purchased a pick-up truck and she was so hurt and disappointed when he brought it home without having consulted her that she did make the remark. John further alleged that when Doris returned from her trip to Louisiana she falsely accused him of having a woman in their home and suggested he had been in bed with this woman. Doris testified that upon her return from Louisiana she had a rather distressing telephone call which made her "think that, well, maybe John isn't fishing and everything"; that when she came back she found someone had been using her cosmetics, and bobby pins were on the sink, and long blond hair was in her hair brush; that although John had never before washed anything, the bed sheets had all been washed; that she did ask the Plaintiff if he had had someone in their home and "he said that he didn't have to tell me anything, that he didn't know when I was going to return. Then he said if Stanley Blair had one of his girl friends here at the house, he couldn't stop that."
In the course of the trial, the John Mollish testified about certain beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses which he does not embrace, but the one with which John appeared to be most concerned so far as the welfare of their daughter is concerned, was that JWs did not believe in blood transfusions. However, in this regard, the Doris Mollish testified that it was her belief that John Mollish, as the natural father of their child, should have control of the child and if he should feel that the child needed a blood transfusion, she would permit it [These judges had their minds set to reverse this decision, and maybe rightfully so. However, these ignoramuses knew nothing about JWs, and believing this one proves such. See the Blood Case Summaries.]

After hearing the evidence, the Circuit Judge entered a judgment granting John Mollish a divorce and awarding him custody of the couple's child. Doris Mollish appealed. On appeal, the judgment of the trial court was reversed, and the suit for divorce was dismissed. Doris Mollish's cross bill for separate maintenance was sustained, and she was awarded custody of the minor child, with reasonable visitation privileges to John Mollish. The case was remanded for the purpose of entering a decree in keeping with the appellate opinion, and fixing alimony and child support, and providing reasonable visitation privileges for the father. In part, the appellate court stated:
"In rendering his judgment, the Court made no finding of fact, nor did he indicate upon what he relied for granting the Plaintiff a divorce and awarding him custody of the child. From reading the record, we can only conclude that the judgment was predicated upon the Defendant's religious beliefs. ... ... ...
"The Defendant insists that it was error for the Court to grant the Plaintiff a divorce because: (a) The proof did not support the allegations and (b) That since the divorce was grounded upon divergence of religious beliefs, the action of the Court was unconstitutional. ... ...
"We are unable to find any cases in Tennessee where our courts have had occasion to pass upon the question of divergence of religious views constituting cruel and inhuman treatment as the grounds for divorce. However, other jurisdictions have consistently held that, while acts growing out of religious beliefs or activities may create grounds for a divorce, the divergence of religious beliefs per se is not grounds for divorce. ... ...
"The courts, in addressing themselves to the question of divorce, where the divorce action is grounded upon divergence of religious beliefs, have consistently held that no relief can be granted. However, they have just as consistently held that conduct growing out of religious beliefs may constitute grounds for divorce. ... ...
"In the case at bar there was no conduct on behalf of the Defendant, either related or unrelated to her religious beliefs, which could be said to be "a wilful, persistent and continuing course of abusive and humiliating treatment" of the Plaintiff.

"Since the Court was without authority to grant a divorce based solely upon divergent religious beliefs of the parties, it was error for him to grant the Plaintiff a divorce.
"The Defendant contends that it was error for the Court to award custody of the minor child to the Plaintiff in that: (1) The evidence shows the best interest of the child would be served by her remaining with her mother and (2) The Court was without Constitutional authority to award custody of the child based upon the Defendant's religious belief.
"There is no dispute in this record but what both the Plaintiff and Defendant are persons of good reputation and character and are both fit persons to have custody of their child. Therefore, there is only one question to be determined. This is the paramount question in all custody cases: What is for the best interest of the child? ... ...
"We have searched the proof in the transcript of this record in an effort to find evidence to justify the action of the Trial Court in awarding the custody of this 22-month-old daughter to the Plaintiff instead of to the Defendant, and we have found none.

"On the contrary, the proof demands that the custody of this child be awarded to the Defendant. The Plaintiff not only works regularly, but has no home or facility or close relatives to care for this child while he is away at work. ...
"Just as the Court cannot grant a divorce because of divergence of religious beliefs, the religious beliefs of the parents cannot be controlling in custody cases.

"Again, this question has not been before the courts of Tennessee, but an Arizona Court, in the case of Smith v. Smith, ... (the mother was a member of Jehovah's Witnesses), the court said:
'... it has been the uniform judgment of every court reaching the question that if a teaching does not conflict with the fundamental law of the land a parent may not be deprived of the custody of a child because of the court's disagreement with such parent as to religious beliefs.'
"In the case of Salvaggio v. Barnett, ... , in a case where the father was a member of Jehovah's Witnesses and was seeking custody of his child, the Texas Court of Civil Appeals said:
'Under the American principle of separation of Church and State, the secular power is so shackled and restrained by our fundamental law that it is beyond the power of a court, in awarding the custody of the child, to prefer, as tending to promote the interest of the child or surround it with a more normal atmosphere, the religious views or teachings of either parent.'
"The Missouri Court of Appeals, in the case of Brewer v. Cary, ... , said:
'Nor can we, in determining what is for the welfare of the infant, determine that on considerations of religion. That would involve our determination between religions - and that we are not permitted to do.'
"In In Re Laura Doyle, 16 Mo. App. 159, 166:
'A great deal has been said in the argument as to the religious question. In determining what will be best for the child, we cannot, under the system of law which we are appointed to administer, look at that. The state of which we are citizens and officers, does not regard herself as having any competency in spiritual matters. She looks with equal eye upon all forms of a so-called christianity, and subjects no one to any disability for rejecting christianity in any form, nor for rejecting the generally accepted doctrines of natural religion. A father in Missouri forfeits no rights to the custody and control of his child by being, or becoming, an atheist, nor are his rights in this respect increased before the law by his believing rightly. The law does not profess to know what is a right belief.'
"We think the Court was in error in awarding the custody of this child to the Plaintiff. The Defendant's assignments of error are sustained.


CHARLES NEWTON v. LOIS NEWTON was a widely publicized 1971 Iowa divorce case. The Newtons, of Des Moines, Iowa, were both Methodists who married in 1954. At some point in their marriage Lois Newton's mother converted to the WatchTower Cult, and she in turn recruited Lois Newton into the Cult in 1962. Typically, at the expense of her husband and three children, Lois Newton immersed herself into the Cult's five meetings per week, plus Lois spent 75-130 hours per month performing door-to-door recruiting. Somehow, Charles Newton withstood the situation until 1971 when he finally filed for divorce and custody of his three children.

In November 1971, Judge Gibson C.Holliday of the Polk County District Court granted Charles Newton a divorce, plus granted his request for custody of all three children. Judge Holliday noted that Lois Newton had "provided generally for the basic physical needs of her children" and "without question loves her children." However, Judge Gibson continued:

She is dedicated to the teachings of this organization and states she intends to continue as a member of it regardless of family ties. In view of the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses, it would be truly a tragedy to expose these children to what the Court believes would be a relentless effort to instill in the children these beliefs if the Respondent were granted custody of the minor children upon the dissolution of this marriage. ...

Even though it is all right for each to have his or her own religious beliefs, the Respondent has carried hers to the extent of disrupting and destroying the family life. ... While the Court recognizes that our government and the courts of this country have vigorously defended the religious freedom of an individual and his right to worship in the manner he chooses, the testimony and exhibits in this case indicate to the Court that the Jehovah's Witness organization embraces teachings and beliefs far outside the general scope of other religious denominations in this country. Some of these appear to be so far afield from the mainstream of religious thought that they would not be accepted by other denominations as true religious concepts.
1. Witnesses permit no blood transfusions for themselves or anyone they control, even to save a life.
2. Witnesses teach that the public schools in the United States are under the influence of the wicked system ruled by Satan. They also discourage after-school athletics and school clubs, dances, bands, plays, and assemblies.
3. Witnesses neither sing the national anthem, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, nor salute the flag. They prefer alien status within our Government.
4. Witnesses do not participate in community-sponsored activities, such as voting.
5. Witnesses teach that the United States Government is characterized as the "image of the beast" in the book of Revelation and is the "mouthpiece" for Satan's propaganda.
6. Witnesses believe all other religions are insidious creations of the devil and that their clergymen, along with Government officials, are agents of the devil.
7. Witnesses hold that such traditional holidays or celebrations as Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and birthdays are dangerous observances inspired by the devil.
8. Witnesses discourage higher education or college training because today's industrial society is nearing its end and because youth should be spared exposure to an increasingly demoralizing atmosphere.
9. Witnesses hold that the world is soon coming to an end and that that day is called Armageddon, which, as matters now stand, will arrive in 1975. Witnesses publications describe the "terror and violence" of Armageddon, with the apparent purpose to "teach children by terror and fear in an attempt to influence belief in their religion, which is not for the best interests of a child."

Once again, the WatchTower Society backed legal team UNSUCCESSFULLY appealed the trial court decision all the way to the Supreme Court of Iowa.


SANTA MARIA v. SANTA MARIA was a 1971 Arizona court decision. Peter R. Santa Maria was awarded a decree of absolute divorce from his wife Reynalda Santa Maria, in June 1971. Custody of the couple's only child was awarded to the mother, with the father receiving visitation rights. The 18 year-old couple had married in August 1969 after Reynalda became pregnant out-of-wedlock, and the couple permanently separated in September 1970. The marriage quickly fell apart after Reynalda Santa Maria actively joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. Reynalda Santa Maria's mother was already a JW, and Reynalda apparently had been reared as a JW. Peter testified that his wife left his home on approximately seven occasions during the marriage to spend time with her mother attending religious conventions, remaining away from three days to a month at different times.


PHILLIP J. GRANT v. THERESA ANN GRANT was a 1975 to 1977 20-month long marriage and divorce which either was initiated or ended due to the WatchTower Cult religion. Details are unclear. Theresa Ann Robinson, age 17, of Cincinnati, Ohio, joined the WatchTower Cult in 1975 (Armageddon at been predicted for October 1975) close in time to marrying 25 year-old Phillip Grant. In any event, the marriage broke up shortly after the failure of the WatchTower Cult's prediction.

IN RE THERESA ANN GRANT. In April 1986, Theresa A. Grant was admitted to Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital suffering from complications of lupus and pancreatitis. During unidentified surgery, blood transfusions were needed to save Grant's life. Grant's non-JW Parents stepped in and asked the hospital to seek court intervention. The local judge ruled that Grant was incompetent to make her own medical decisions and granted authorization for all needed medical treatment, including the necessary blood transfusions. 

After Grant's life was saved by her non-JW Parents and the hospital, Grant followed directions from the Watchtower Cult's Legal Department and attempted to get a restraining order preventing further blood transfusions, which were no longer needed. The local court denied Grant's request. Grant's attorney filed for appellate review of the original order. Nothing found. Assumed that appellate court ruled that the issue was now MOOT.


LAVERNA KENDRICK v. LEONARD KENDRICK was a 1970-71 Washington state divorce case. LaVerna Kendrick, age 35, and Leonard Kendrick, age 26, were married in 1963. Two children quickly were born. Then, the same old story developed as LaVerna Kendrick joined the WatchTower Cult and quickly lost interest in her husband and her marriage. LaVerna filed for a divorce, with Leonard only contesting custody using the religious issue, but failing. The court granted LaVerna primary custody, but conceded in the divorce decree that LaVerna could not kidnap her own children and flee the state as do many divorced JW Mothers, and she was ordered to "seek competent medical treatment" at all necessary times, plus notify Leonard whenever the children were ill.


STAPLEY v. STAPLEY was a 1971 Arizona appellate court decision. Walter Keith Stapley II and Rosemary Stapley Hallquist were divorced in August 1967. Custody of their three children, then 5, 3 and 1, respectively, was given to Rosemary Stapley Hallquist, with Walter Keith Stapley II to have certain visitation privileges. In December 1968, Walter Keith Stapley II petitioned the court to modify the custody provisions of the decree because Rosemary Hallquist was apparently not allowing her ex-husband to have visitation as directed by the divorce decree. In February 1969, a court order was entered modifying the divorce decree as to Walter Stapley's privileges. It specifically detailed his visitation rights on weekends, holidays, and during the summer months. It further ordered that neither party could remove the children from the state of Arizona without the written consent of the other party, or an order of the court being first obtained permitting such removal.

In July 1969, Walter Keith Stapley II petitioned for a change of custody on the grounds that the mother had refused to comply with the prior order of the court in that certain visitation rights had been denied him. Additionally, Rosemary Stapley had remarried one Raymond Hallquist, and both were now very devout members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Hallquists had informed Walter Keith Stapley II that he would no longer be allowed visitation with the children, and that the couple contemplated moving to California without first obtaining court authorization for removal of the children from Arizona. Walter Stapley's petition further alleged that Rosemary and Raymond Hallquist were continuously engaged in a course of conduct contemplated to alienate the minor children from their father, and to prevent him from visiting with his children. The "home atmosphere" created by the mother was jeopardizing "the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the minor children." In August 1969, Walter K. Stapley filed another petition alleging that Raymond and Rosemary Hallquist had in fact removed the three children from the State of Arizona to California - thereby violating the court order.
An extensive hearing was held with respect to the mother's purported contempt and the father's claim of "changed circumstances." The record of this hearing reflects the following. The mother had married one Raymond Hallquist and both were very devout members of the Jehovah's Witness sect. The new husband set the policies for the household and all decisions were made by him. The children were being indoctrinated in the tenets of the Jehovah's Witnesses: that the flag is a pagan symbol and it is evil to salute it or pledge allegiance to it or to participate in any governmental function, including voting and serving in the armed forces; that it is wrong to celebrate Christmas and Easter; and that if the laws of the State of Arizona or the United States are in conflict with their interpretation of the Bible, they are at liberty to disregard the law insofar as it does conflict. The children accompanied the mother and her husband when they went out "servicing", i.e., knocking on doors to obtain converts to their religion. The oldest child, then age 7, was required to sell weekly the religious publication "Watchtower" in shopping centers such as Christown.

The mother and her husband both testified that they did not believe in blood transfusions and that if one of the children should be seriously ill or injured and a blood transfusion necessary to save its life, they would not consent to a transfusion. The mother also admitted, in response to questioning by the court, that if a child needed medical treatment and she had the opportunity to contact the father to consult him with regard to such treatment, she would not do so.

In September 1969, the Arizona court ruled Rosemary Hallquist to be in contempt due to her previous violations of court orders, yet denied Walter Stapley's request for change of custody. The court ordered even more specific visitation privileges, gave Walter Stapley the exclusive right to consent to blood transfusions for the three children, prohibited the Hallquists from taking the children out in "field service", and prohibited the Hallquists from taking the children out-of-state.
In December 1969, Walter Stapley again petitioned for a change of custody -- once again alleging Rosemary Hallquist's disregard of the court order with respect to visitation, notification of illness, and allowing the children to be taken to public places for the purpose of selling WatchTower literature. After another lengthy hearing, the Arizona court finally granted Walter Stapley's request for change of custody.

The trial court found that Rosemary Hallquist had flagrantly, wilfully, and without cause or justification refused to comply with the orders of the court as to the father's visitation rights, notification of the father as to a child's illness requiring medical attention, allowing the children to be taken to public places to sell WatchTower literature, and therefore was in contempt of court. The court further found that Raymond Hallquist exercised a very strong degree of control and authority over both Rosemary Hallquist and her minor children; that he had aided, advised and participated with the mother in violation of the court order; that Rosemary and Raymond Hallquist had created an environment of tension and turmoil for the children thus jeopardizing their welfare, by refusing exercise of the father's visitation rights, by refusing to allow the children to participate in activities with their father, and instilling fear in their minds as to associating with their father and possessing gifts given by him to them; and that all of this conduct on the part of the mother and her husband had adversely affected the children and jeopardized their welfare.

The court also found that Rosemary and Raymond Hallquist had indicated by their conduct that in the event any child had an illness or an accident which required blood transfusions, they would not comply with court orders to notify the father so that he could make a decision as to whether a transfusion should be given, and that if the choice was left to them as to such transfusion, they would allow the child to die rather than to permit a transfusion; that the safety and welfare of the children was in jeopardy and would further be jeopardized if they were allowed to remain in their mother's custody; that the mother and her present husband were not fit and proper persons to have the care, custody and control of the children whereas the father and his wife were; and that the best interests and welfare of the children would best be served by awarding custody of them to the father. The Hallquists appealed, but the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling, in 1971.


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