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The "DIVORCES - CHILD CUSTODY" section of this website contains summaries of over 200 Child Custody and other Divorce court cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses. The vast majority of the summarized cases are Appellate Court and even Supreme Court decisions. Viewers should bear in mind that these 200+ cases are not exhaustive of all such cases. These cases are merely those that I have been able to locate on the world wide web. I'm guessing that the actual number of such Jehovah's Witness family court cases probably range in the 1000s over the past decades. Thus, these cases should be considered as being merely "illustrative" of what has occurred in the past, and may occur in the future.
Generally, there is no such thing as a "national child custody law". Although similar, each state has established its own laws regarding child custody, and each state's courts interpret those laws using legal standards that may vary from those used by courts in other states. As site visitors will quickly see from reading the following summaries, state courts apply one of the following three different legal standards when deciding these cases:
1. Actual Or Substantial Harm: Existing actual or substantial harm to the child must be proven to have been caused by a parent's religious practices before the court will restrict that parent's constitutional rights. Such states include California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
2. Risk Of Harm. For a court to restrict a parent's constitutional rights, it only has to be proven that that a parent's religious practices pose a risk of harm to the child. Such states include Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
3. No Harm Required. In only a few states, such as Arkansas and Wisconsin, a parent who has sole legal custody also has the exclusive right to determine the child's religious education.
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.
HEATHER LEWIS v. MICHAEL JAMES PARMERTER was an ongoing 2008-17 Tennessee child custody court case. Heather Lewis and Michael James Parmerter, age 30s, then of Cookville, Tennessee, are the parents of four children born during the course of their marriage, which ended in 2008. The mother was named the primary residential parent. The parenting plan granted joint decision making power with respect to the children's religious upbringing. Much more litigation followed focusing on the religious upbringing.
"There has been much contention between the parties over their children's religious upbringing. Since that divorce, the parties have filed numerous Petitions for Contempt, Orders of Protection, and Motions to Modify arising out of, among other disagreements, the control of their children and their religious beliefs. Much of this conflict centers around [Father's] refusal or interference with his children participating in extracurricular activities, such as Scouts, football, and other sports which he claims violates his religious beliefs."
In 2015, a psychotherapist offered evidence that the children would benefit from increased visitation and involvement with JWFather. However, she also noted that the children expressed anxiety with attending JWFather's religious services at his Kingdom Hall. JWFather agreed to work with the children on reducing their anxieties.
The trial court entered a new order giving the mother decision making power with respect to religious upbringing. The order also specified that the children shall exclusively attend the mother's church, but that JWFather was not obligated to take them to that church during his parenting time. JWFather then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He argued that the order violated his and his children's right to freedom of religious expression as protected by the federal and state constitutions.
At the March 30, 2015 hearing, the court received evidence from Sheila Masters, psychotherapist for the family, in the form of a letter from Ms. Masters to the Guardian ad litem; the letter stated in pertinent part:
"As you know, I have been seeing the Parmerter family since February 6, 2015. ... [Mother] has also reported that [Child 1] has become paranoid that "Jehovah" is watching everything that he does and that he will be punished when his father takes him back to "Jehovah's House", which Matthew has not identified as an issue at this point in therapy. ...
"All of the children have reported experiencing some anxiety associated with attending father's religious services, specifically [Child 1]. The severity of their complaints identified during therapy are based on their differing religious beliefs, boredom during the service, and their father startling [Child 1] to wake him during the service, but not doing so to the other children. These issues were addressed with Mr. Parmerter, who agreed to work with the children in order to reduce any stress or anxiety related to these matters.
"At this time I feel that the children would benefit from increased visitation and involvement with their father. I feel that it is important for [Father] to be involved in attending their doctor's appointments and extra-curricular events. I do, however, believe it would be extremely beneficial for the family (including [Mother]) to continue attending therapy. I feel that it is of utmost importance that [Mother] and [Father] increase their Congruent Parenting Skills, to learn to work better together in raising these wonderful children with a healthy relationship between their parents. I also feel that it would benefit [Child 1], if he were able to continue addressing any further issues he may have regarding conflict of religious beliefs vs. attending a service with his father. ..."
Mother subsequently filed a "Motion to Amend/Parenting Plan From March 30, 2015," requesting, inter alia, that the court amend the April 28 order to reflect this court's order that [Father] should not force the minor children to participate in or practice his religious beliefs. The court held a hearing on the motion at which the court received another letter from Ms. Masters; pertinent to the issues in this appeal, the letter stated:
"... As you know I have continued to see [Mother], [Father] and all of the children. Since their last court hearing I have noted a significant increase in emotional distress in all of the children, most affected is [Child 1]. In speaking with all of the children, it has been brought to my attention that they are attending Kingdom Hall (sometimes for 4+hours at a time) more frequently with their father, [ ]. All of the children are of the understanding that father was no longer allowed to take them to Kingdom Hall. It has also been noted that the children have been provided excessive age inappropriate information related to court proceedings and the parents'reason for their divorce, of which tend to be derogatory toward the other parent. The children also continue to verbalize distress related to parental relations, especially while at the children's ball games, which [Mother] [reports] [Father] has violated their mutual restraining order. The children have also identified increased anxiety, distrust of father, feeling they are being forced to believe something they do not, that he is not considerate of their own thoughts and beliefs, that they are being pressured to choose between their mother or father. ...
"In addressing these issues with [Father], he does not state that he will take these into consideration, but he will do what he feels is right for his children. During therapeutic sessions, [Father] has demonstrated consistent resistance toward recommendations, which has been evidenced by body language, posturing, facial expressions and lack of follow-through. Although [Father] is attending therapy sessions, he continues to be resistant to carrying through recommendations made by this therapist to aid in reducing the children's emotional stress."
Ms. Masters recommended that the children continue in therapy with their parents, and that "the children's thoughts and beliefs should be taken into consideration in all aspects of their life."
The appeals court did not reach the constitutional issues in the case. Instead, it first addressed the portion of the order granting decision making authority to the mother with respect to religious upbringing. In this case, there was clearly a disagreement, and that disagreement was having an impact on the children's emotional well-being. The report of the psychotherapist was sufficient evidence to place this power in the hands of the mother.
However, the appeals court could not find any support in the record for the trial court's order that the children attend only the mother's church. While the psychotherapist pointed out anxiety arising from attending JWFather's Kingdom Hall, she did not recommend that the children be compelled to attend the mother's church. In addition, the appeals court noted that the mother did not request that they attend only that church. The appeals court agreed that designating that specific church made the order more certain, this was not necessary for the mother to carry out her authority to make the decision.
Since the appeals court held that the designation of authority was proper, and that the naming of a specific church was not proper, it did not need to address the constitutional issues raised by the JWFather. Therefore, it modified the trial court's order, and affirmed it as modified.
JW MARITAL BLISS IN KENYA. February 2019. Petitioner EWK (JW WIFE) and Respondent TM (JW HUSBAND) married on 1st August 1992 at the Kitale Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall under the African Christian Marriage Act. They were blessed with five surviving children F (born in 1993) N (1995) P (1997) H (1999) and S (born in 2001). The Petitioner avers that the marriage bliss was disrupted by the Respondent treating the Petitioner with utmost cruelty. The particulars of cruelty are that he failed to provide maintenance, emotional, and verbal abuse; physical assault, failing to exhibit love and affection to the Petitioner and the children. The Respondent during the subsistence of the marriage engaged in extra-marital affairs with various women, causing the Petitioner be arrested by police on flimsy grounds, and chasing away the Petitioner from the matrimonial home. She therefore prays for dissolution of the marriage, be granted custody of the children, be paid almonry, and the Respondent be condemned to pay costs of the Petition.
Respondent JTM filed a Reply to Petition. Respondent averred that the Petitioner during the subsistence of the marriage has been disrespectful to him, been deserting the matrimonial home, and engaged in adultery. He denied ever chasing away the Petitioner, and avers that the Petitioner's character and behavior is such that she cannot be entrusted with the responsibility of bringing up the children. The Respondent then filed cross-petition seeking for dissolution of the marriage for the above grounds, and be granted custody of the children.
The Petitioner in her evidence testified that during the subsistence of the marriage the Respondent used to assault her, in particular on 28.12.2010, he beat her and she sustained injuries and was treated at Bungoma District Hospital. On 18.2.2011, he chased her from the matrimonial home. On 28.12.2010, he came with a woman to the matrimonial home and asked her to leave the bedroom for them, which she refused, and he beat her.
Respondent testified that they had 5 issues of the marriage, two of whom are working, and Purity and Sarah are below 18 years. He denied treating the Petitioner with cruelty. He testified that it is actually the Petitioner who is a cruel person. She has treated him with cruelty, and is even cruel to their employees, which led to her being arrested by police. He testified that she deserted the matrimonial home. He testified that he Petitioner has been engaging in adultery, and gave an incident on 31.12.2010, when he together with police officers found her in a house with a young man. He testified that the Petitioner drinks changaa and engages in illicit sexual behavior. He prays that the court do dissolve the marriage.
Both the Petitioner and Respondent are Civil Servants working with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. In this Petition there is evidence of cruelty on the part of the Respondent, who beat up the Petitioner in 2011 that she had to seek treatment, adultery by the Petitioner, who was arrested by police while engaging in acts of adultery on 31.12.2010, and she deserted the matrimonial home in 2010. From this evidence this Court is satisfied that the Marriage relationship between the Petitioner and Respondent has irretrievably broken down and should and is hereby dissolved. (Edited)
GREGORY W. WOODRUM v. JENNIFER L. WOODRUM was a 2015-18 Illinois divorce case. In 2001, Greg Woodrum and Jennifer began a relationship, and Jennifer moved into Greg's home shortly thereafter. Each party had been previously divorced twice and each had two children from prior their marriages. Gregory Woodrum, age 50, and Jennifer, age 53, married in July 2007. Eight years later, in September 2015, Gregory Woodrum filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. No children were born out of their marriage.
Gregory Woodrum admitted that the reason he told Jennifer Woodrum to leave their home was because she was attending religious services at the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Greg contended that prior to their marriage Jennifer had told him that she was no longer a Jehovah's Witness. This case is an excellent lesson for anyone considering marriage to a former Jehovah's Witness who is swearing that they would never "return to the mire".
Prior to their marriage, the parties executed a premarital agreement. Both at trial and on appeal, Jennifer Woodrum attacked the prenuptial agreement in every way possible that a prenuptial agreement can be attacked. This particular prenuptial agreement failed in only one area -- temporary maintenance during pendency of the divorce proceedings. This educational appellate court opinion provides an excellent lesson for anyone wishing to educate themselves about premarital agreements.
During the pendency of the proceedings, the trial court awarded Jennifer Woodrum temporary maintenance and, subsequently, found the parties' prenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable. On appeal, Jennifer Woodrum argued (1) the prenuptial agreement was not valid and enforceable and (2) the trial court prematurely entered a judgment without properly addressing "the issue of property." On cross-appeal, Greg argued the trial court erred by awarding temporary maintenance to Jennifer. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed.
One of the first things any divorcing parent with children must decide is whether they will contest custody of their children. While that answer may be obvious for most XJW Parents, it is not a given. We are making an exception to our rule of not posting foreign court cases in this section, because the "facts" of this July 2017 Canadian court decision should be highly informative and educational for anyone contemplating entering a child custody contest. This LOSER case not only affects the involved parties, but will define XJWs and XJW child custody issues for decades to come in Canada. Cult HQ is still celebrating. Read case thoroughly. Use pen and paper to record the "positives" and "negatives" for both the JW side and the XJW side. Anyone who finds any expectation -- reasonable or unreasonable -- that the JWs might lose this case, please forward your argument for our personal education.
J.D. v. M.C. was a 2018 Quebec Superior Court "alimony" proceeding in Canada which well demonstrates the laziness of literally thousands of married Jehovah's Witness females worldwide. Jehovah's Witness Couple JD and MC were married from 2000 until 2015. Typically, the couple never had children. MC spent most of her time as a regular pioneer (fulltime proselytizer). JD agreed to support MC's WatchTower Cult proselytizing. However, around 2011, JD was seriously injured in an accident and temporarily could not earn a living. When asked to get a job to help support them during this unfortunate period, MC REFUSED. MC even left JD in October 2012, and immediately sought "support". JD agreed to pay MC $275.00 per week beginning in May 2013. The couple were eventually divorced in 2015. Even then, MC sought and received $175.00 per week support to help her transition to financial independence. However, by October 2017, MC had not found either a parttime or fulltime job. Her efforts to do were minimal. JD asked the court to end this never-ending burden, even graciously amending his complaint to make the effective date whenever the court finally so decided -- April 2018. The court noted:
Since the divorce in April 2015, [MC] has made 20 job applications, which does not even amount to one application per month. In addition to these 20 steps, [MC] spends only a few minutes a day consulting the offers on a website to which she subscribes, and she only consults offers for jobs that interest her -- and [even] that she limited to crossing guard jobs, tastings in grocery stores, and school [bus] driver. [MC] is not looking for a full-time job, which further limits her chances of finding a job. Furthermore, [MC] made no effort to improve her employability by taking training. For example, she never took the training to become a beneficiary attendant -- a job that apparently interested her with the elderly. [MC]considers that many jobs are too stressful or physically tiring for her abilities. She also claims to be unable to work in a closed environment such as an office. However, she is able to paint the rooms of the residences of her friends or of the organization ... where she attends certain sessions on well-being. [MC] says she is very anxious, stressed and has little physical endurance. According to her, she would be unable to hold a full-time job. [MC] said that she had consulted a psychologist, psychiatrist and attended psychotherapy sessions, in particular on self-esteem. However, [MC] does not provide any medical certificate demonstrating her inability to work since the divorce or any physical limitation whatsoever to hold certain jobs and she takes no medication for her anxiety.
Although [MC] claims that she is unable to hold a full-time job because she gets tired too quickly, the description of her typical week of activities shows the opposite. [MC] dedicates Mondays and Wednesdays from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. volunteering with Jehovah's Witnesses. She goes to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses to write letters and make phone calls. She also travels and goes door-to-door or even visits people open to receiving her for spiritual discussions. On Tuesday, [MC] devotes her day to spiritual research and reading in order to prepare for her Tuesday evening religious meeting.On Thursday, [MC] finishes the housework and does her shopping (grocery, pharmacy and others). She does them on foot in summer, which requires between 30 and 60 minutes of walking. She carries her purchases. She also devotes part of the day on Thursday to spiritual research and reading in order to prepare for her Sunday meeting. [MC] spends the Friday morning volunteering for Jehovah's Witnesses. On Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., [MC] again does proselytizing work; as well as on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
ABRA MOORE v. DONOVAN MOORE is an ongoing 2016 Kentucky child custody contest resulting from a 2002 marriage and a 2011 divorce. The divorced couple are the parents of an 11 year-old daughter and an 8 year-old son. The mother, Abra Moore, age 34, is the custodial parent, and is a former Jehovah's Witness. Donovan Moore, age 54, has re-married, and is still a Jehovah's Witness.
See: EEOC v. THE ADVOCATE MESSENGER (2002) and KENTUCKY v. DONOVAN JAMES MOORE (2016)
In April 2015, Mother filed a Motion asking the trial court to admonish Father that he should not influence Mother's choices of religious beliefs for the children. Specifically, she asked that Father "cease communication with the children regarding their religious beliefs as same has made the children uncomfortable and anxious." Mother is raising the children in the Christian faith. By Order of August 2015, the trial court denied Mother's Motion.
The trial court explained that Mother's ability as sole custodian to determine the religion in which the children will be raised is not compromised or controverted by its order. In recognizing Father's right to express his religious views, the court noted that any restriction on his discussion of his religious beliefs with his children would require "an understandably high threshold due to the First Amendment Freedom of Religion Protections of the Constitution. ...
... the trial court held that Father may expose the children to his religious beliefs, provided that such exposure is not substantially likely to result in physical or emotional harm to them. Additionally, the court held that there was insufficient proof in the record of such harm or of any substantial likelihood that such harm would occur. ... ....
The trial court did not limit Mother's authority to determine the children's religious training in any way. In balancing the respective rights of the parents, the trial court correctly determined that Mother's statutory right does not preempt or abrogate Father's constitutional right to express his religion. Again, he may do so provided that "the exposure is not substantially likely to result in physical or emotional harm to the child." ...
NO, Judges won't just take your word for it that exposing children to the beliefs and practices of the WatchTower Cult is detrimental to children in every way imaginable. If YOU and your attorney are not prepared to adequately make the case that exposing your children to the beliefs and practices of the WatchTower Cult is detrimental to your children in every way imaginable, then don't be surprised when you not only lose, but are "spanked" by the court for making an assertion that you were unable to prove. We can't say much more about the hearing in this case then we already did about the hearing in the PIERSON case summarized below, except to note that at least Jennifer Pierson presented one expert witness capable of testifying to "something".
EMILIO ANELLO, JR v. DANIELLE P. FIORINA is an ongoing 2008-16 New Jersey child custody contest which should be HIGHLY EDUCATIONAL for non-JW Parents involved in a child custody contest. "Son" was born out-of-wedlock to this unmarried couple in 2008. Shortly thereafter, Emilio Anello and Danielle Fiorina agreed to joint custody, with the Jehovah's Witness Mother serving as the parent of primary residence. (The court decision noted that Emilio Anello was estranged from his entire family, thus the Anello Family may also be Jehovah's Witnesses.)
Beginning in October 2009, Emilio Anello began seeking an increase in parenting time, including all holidays and Son's birthday. NOT UNREASONABLY, Anello asserted that he should be granted all holidays and Son's birthday because Danielle was a Jehovah's Witness who did not celebrate these events. Expectedly, Danielle Fiorina opposed such.
During hearings held in May 2013, Danielle Fiorina testified that as a practicing Jehovah's Witness, her "religious beliefs and convictions ... incline [her] away from honoring or celebrating anything that [is] not explicitly identified in the Bible", BUT that those religious beliefs did not prevent her from "having a family gathering or meal" on holidays, because "everyone shuts down on these days and [she's] able to have uninterrupted time with" her Son.
With regard to "religious" holidays, Danielle Fiorina testified that her father and members of the ANELLO FAMILY visited "Son" either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. As for Easter, Danielle Fiorina testified that "all the holidays are the same to me. They're ... where I don't work, I have time at home, with [Son]. ... other family members, my father, [Son's] paternal grandparents, anyone can come visit, because they're not working as well. So they're able to come over and spend time together on these holidays ... they celebrate. I don't prevent them from celebrating. They do what they do. If they want to come in and wish my son a ... happy Easter, that's what they do. I don't prevent that. ... They have given him Easter baskets. ... they're allowed to give him what they want to give [him]. I don't interfere with what they want to do."
With regard to "secular" holidays, such as Memorial Day, President's Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, Danielle Fiorina testified that "they are pretty much all the same ... but it's an opportunity where I spend time, I don't have to work. [Son] gets to spend time with other people ... in his close family that do not work, and are around. My father, [the ANELLO FAMILY], cousins. ... We ... have something to eat at my house or we would go out to eat." Danielle Fiorina acknowledged that she would not attend a Memorial Day service or a fireworks show on the Fourth of July, as she did not "celebrate it [and t]hat would be a part of celebrating it." She also would not celebrate Thanksgiving, but would "either eat at [her] house or go out.... it's really just the same. [Son is] not in school, he gets to spend time with family."
In June 2013 order, the GULLIBLE NEW JERSEY JUDGE established a detailed holiday parenting time schedule. Emilio Anello received Memorial Day weekend, Halloween, Veteran's Day, Christmas Eve to Christmas Morning, Father's Day and Emilio's own birthday.
Danielle Fiorina received Labor Day weekend, Christmas Day, Mother's Day (also forbidden by the WatchTower Cult) and her own birthday.
The GENIUS NEW JERSEY JUDGE split July 4th, President's Day, Easter, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and EVEN SON's BIRTHDAY -- NONE OF WHICH JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES ARE PERMITTED TO CELEBRATE.
On appeal, TWO NEW JERSEY JUDGES affirmed the trial court decision in 2015.
Readers should read the full online version of this decision to understand that Emilio Anello's alleged conduct FAILED to earn him any sympathy with either the Superior Court Judge or the two appellate court judges. Once again, "In all dealings, don't be an ASS." Additionally, as revealed in this decision, non-JW Parents must anticipate that the JW Parent will SPIN and MINIMIZE their "ANTI-HOLIDAYS" beliefs and practices. Non-JW litigants should be prepared to demonstrate to the court how JWs ACTUALLY feel and conduct themselves with regard to holiday celebrations, including proving that any JW who shortcuts WatchTower Cult beliefs and practices exposes themselves and their children to marking, shunning, etc. As in this case, most trial court judges are not willing to give non-JW litigants multiple opportunities to prove their case, or disprove the opponent's case. ANTICIPATE THEOCRATIC WARFARE.
JW FATHER v. XJW MOTHER was a 2019 Australia child custody case in which the former Jehovah's Witness Mother, age 36, who previously had primary custody, was granted sole custody. JW Father, age 41, was granted supervised visitation. JW Father is an undisclosed "health care worker" -- possibly in the mental health field. Mother was a low level nurse. This couple married in 2008, and had children in 2008 and 2010. Mother already had a son born in 2003, whom JW Father had adopted. This JW Couple had separated for employment purposes in 2016, which led to legal separation in 2017. Selected excerpts (edited):
The father is a Jehovah's Witness, as is his family. The mother says she became a Jehovah's Witness shortly after they married. During the marriage they went to Jehovah's Witness meetings as a family. Most of their friends and family have the same beliefs, and the mother says they were not encouraged to associate with others who were not Jehovah's Witnesses.
The mother stopped going to [Kingdom Hall] meetings with the children after she and the father separated. The mother says she has been pressured by other Jehovah:s Witnesses to forgive the father and reconcile with him. She then goes on to say that no one from the Jehovah's Witness communities talk to her or the children, and she feels ostracised, and no longer wants to be a Jehovah's Witness.
The children attend a Christian school and receive religious instruction there. The mother says that she understands that this is a difficult issue because the father and his family have strong religious beliefs. She says Jehovah's Witnesses have very strict rules, and do not celebrate birthdays or other holidays. She says she would like the children to be exposed to a variety of religions, and for them to make up their own minds when they are older.
The father denies that the mother has become unwelcome in the Jehovah's Witness church community, and says that she removed herself, and it was her decision to stop going to church. He then said that the fact that the children no longer have a spiritual life would be a concern for any parent, and he is disappointed, as his spirituality is an important part of their lives, and he would like to raise his children with the truth about God. He agreed that he has asked the children a few times about their faith since they stopped going to [Kingdom Hall] meetings, and said that it is the life that the children have always known, and that "it is very important to us."
He agreed he talked to the children about the importance of reading the Bible, as they were not attending [Kingdom Hall] meetings. He also agreed that he showed them the [WatchTower website] on [X]'s iPad, and said he needed to remind them of their religion. He then said that [X] took a picture of that website of his own volition. He also agreed that the contact worker talked to him about this, and he said he thought that she was expressing her personal opinion, when he told her that it was a very important part of their lives. He agreed that she told him it was inappropriate to talk to the children about this as they had no choice about going, and he replied that that was her personal opinion, that he told her that it is a matter of spirituality. The mother's Counsel asked him if he ever thought that the children do not want to attend [Kingdom Hall] meetings. The father replied, "No, if their thoughts about meetings are changed in anyway, I would worry".
[Father] denied that his discussions about religion during contact visits made the children uncomfortable, and he said that there was nothing that was not positive about those discussions, and that he would worry if the children were uncomfortable about spiritual talk. He confirmed that he told the [contact] supervisor that if he could not talk about religion to the children he would not attend the visits. The father said that it would certainly take away from the visits as he wants to see the children, but also wants to talk about religion with them.
At paragraph 34 of the family report, the report writer records [X] telling her that he was uncomfortable about the father's enquiries about attending Jehovah's Witness meetings. The father said he was shocked that that was [X]'s opinion, and felt saddened, and that [X] was probably misguided. When asked if that made him decide if there was a better way to discuss religion the father said "not at all he is a child he needs to be guided". He said he would worry if the children decided not to be part of [the Jehovah's Witnesses] and he said "I am not trying to get them to belong to where they were born into that community. Their lives are currently disrupted".
IN RE NGODO was a 2016-18 Australia immigration case in which the appellate court refused to overturn the denial of a spousal visa to Ikechukwu Solomon Ngodo, the 32 year old Nigerian JW Husband of a 51 year old, white, mentally ill Jehovah's Witness Divorcee (2003) with two adult daughters, named Samantha Ngodo. Selected excerpts (edited):
The parties claim to have met on a Jehovah's Witness online dating site in June 2014 and committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others on 9 June 2014. They met in person for the first time on 10 September 2015 and married on 11 September 2015. The review applicant remained in Gambia for 7 weeks before returning to Australia. ...
The parties claim to be devout members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The visa applicant was born into that Church and claims to have participated in religious activities from an early age. This is supported by friends and relatives of the visa applicant. The review applicant has been a member of the church since around 1998. This is also supported by a fellow member of the Church. Both parties placed significant emphasis on their shared membership of this church, their shared values, and in particular emphasised that the church saw marriage as a permanent and ongoing commitment, and to question that marriage meant it was viewed as a mockery to their God Jehovah.
The Tribunal questioned the review applicant about this aspect of her faith, noting that she had previously married a fellow member of the church, and that marriage ended in divorce. The Tribunal asked her why she did not feel bound to that relationship, as her faith required, but sought to divorce her first husband. She said that the circumstances of her divorce from her first husband were special. Asked how, therefore, she and the visa applicant could make a claim that their faith would ensure their marriage was genuine and ongoing; the applicant said that the church allowed divorce in certain circumstances. The Tribunal finds this response glib and unsatisfactory given the emphasis placed by both parties, and their representative, upon the permanence of their marriage and the fact that their faith overcomes all barriers of age and culture.
The Tribunal accepts that parties enter into a marriage for many reasons, including the prospect of permanent residence in Australia, and mutual benefits for both parties. When the Tribunal asked the review applicant if she had considered the prospect that the visa applicant had entered into the marriage solely to gain Australian permanent residence, she strongly denied this. She said that the visa applicant had indicated a desire to learn to speak Polish as that was her first language.
The review applicant told the Tribunal that she has admired Nigerian culture for many years and had focused on that country to find a partner. Asked what aspects of the culture appealed to her she said that she liked the way that they live and eat; their family orientation and the way they dressed. She said that it suited her personality and high level of intelligence. She said that she was also highly emotional and that the visa applicant did not find that a difficulty.
The Tribunal also finds this response glib and unconvincing. Whilst claiming admiration of Nigerian culture she seemed to lack any detailed knowledge of that culture and the Tribunal notes that despite making a specific reference to liking the cultural dress of Nigeria, she married the visa applicant in a short white western-style dress. These incongruences together work to diminish the strength of the review applicant's arguments and raise some questions in the Tribunal's mind about the extent to which the review applicant is indeed committed to a life with the visa applicant.
The Tribunal asked the applicant why, given her claims that she was desperate to be with the visa applicant, she had nevertheless not sought to be reunited with him at any time since she left Gambia after her marriage in 2015, and took over a year to lodge the application for a spouse visa.
The applicant told the Tribunal that if she travelled to see him she would never be able to leave his side again. Asked if she had considered living with him in another country she said that her life was in Australia and she had a right to bring her husband here. She also claimed that she found it impossible to travel such long distances because of her anxiety and depression. The Tribunal put to her that she had earlier claimed that her depression had begun after the refusal of her application in July 2017, and she could have travelled to see him before then. The review applicant claimed that it took her a long time to gather together the necessary documents for the application, and to save the money. She said she did not visit before then because she was confident that the application would be successful. The parties also told the Tribunal that the visa applicant moved from Gambia to Dubai in order to shorten the distance that the review applicant would need to travel in order to see him.
The Tribunal finds these claims unpersuasive. For example, the supporting evidence the review applicant has provided in relation to her mental illness ... does not state that the review applicant is unable to travel. The parties have conducted a disembodied and virtual relationship for many years over social and electronic media. In the Tribunal's mind there is little in the way of actual or material commitment involved in the conduct of such relationships. They differ entirely from the day to day presence and demands of individuals on a person's life particularly on those who have lived their lives for substantial periods without a partner. ...
It seems to the Tribunal if it removes itself from consideration of these matters, then it is left with little except the exhortations by the parties that their faith will keep them together. Despite this, the Tribunal has nonetheless considered these matters as it is required to do in the preceding paragraphs. Equally, as discussed above, the Tribunal is not satisfied that the parties' mutual religion is a strong argument to support a claim that they consider their relationship to be genuine, ongoing and exclusive.
On Monday night, December 7, 2015, at around 9:30 P.M., a married Jehovah's Witness Wife and Mother named Damaris Saavedra Rodriguez, age 43, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, told her JW Husband that she was going to pick up some grocery items from a nearby Publix supermarket. Damaris Rodriguez did not return home. At some point the following Tuesday AM, Rodriguez's husband notified the police. Police and Rodriguez's husband found Rodriguez's automobile still parked in the Publix parking lot, with the purchased groceries locked inside. Police then viewed the store's security tape, and discovered that after placing her groceries in her car, Damaris Rodriguez had voluntarily walked to and gotten in a gray 2015 Dodge Caravan, which turned out to be owned and driven by another local Jehovah's Witness named Luis Eduardo Carvajal, age 48, also of Pembroke Pines, Florida. Luis E. Carvajal and his Wife were fellow congregants of Damaris Saavedra Rodriguez and her husband at the local Pembroke Pines Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. On Tuesday afternoon, Georgia police located Carvajal's gray 2015 Dodge Caravan 400 miles from Pembroke, Florida, in Brunswick, Georgia -- probably at a local motel. There, after interrogating Damaris Rodriguez and Luis Carvajal, no arrest were made after Damaris Rodriguez convinced them that she was there of her own free will. When questioned by reporters, "Friends say Saavedra Rodriguez and Carvajal are good people and Jehovah's [W]itnesses who value their faith."
MICHELLE GILLETTE v. JOSEPH EYRL GILLETTE was a 2015 Florida divorce. After Joseph E. Gillette, then age 27, and Michelle Herndon married in May 1983, this African-American Jehovah's Witness Couple produced two daughters -- Marissa Danielle Gillette and Erin Morgan Gillette. After being married for exactly 32 years, Michelle Herndon Gillette filed for a divorce in May 2015. Joe Gillette died in November 2015, and as an "exemplary" Jehovah's Witness, who apparently never obtained a "title" during his 45 years as a Jehovah's Witness, received a JW funeral hosted at the Marianna, Florida Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Notably, Joe Gillette worked at the Marianna WINN DIXIE for 35 years, where his employment abilities allowed Joe to eventually rise to the level of "Produce Manager". Despite having his abilities overlooked by both the Marianna, Florida Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses and Winn Dixie, in 2004, Joe Gillette apparently somehow obtained the nearly perfect score on the competitive United States Postal Service exam, which is required for employment, and having outscored all other Caucasian and Hispanic applicants, was given a job as a substitute postman. There, at the Marianna Florida Post Office, Joe was noted for making friends amongst his fellow employees, and was particularly beloved by his female co-workers, whom 'ol Joe frequently would stay late to help with the work that they had been unable to complete as quickly as Joe.
AMIE WILSON v. SCOTT TOWNSHEND is an ongoing 2014 West Virginia child custody battle since the couple's DIVORCE in August 2011. Scott Townshend, a hospital Pharmacist, and Amie Townshend, a Registered Nurse, then residents of Keyser, West Virginia, had a daughter born in 2005, and a second child born in 2007. Soon after the DIVORCE, Amie Townshend secretly, and without filing a Notice of Relocation, moved with the two children into her boyfriend's home in Cumberland, Maryland. After finally discovering the whereabouts of his children in 2012, Scott Townshend filed for a modification of their final divorce order -- particularly seeking a modification of the parenting plan, including modifying such to name Scott's home in West Virginia as the children's primary residence. That modification was granted by the West Virginia family court in 2013, was affirmed by the local appellate court in 2013, and now in 2014 was affirmed by the West Virginia Supreme Court, which also had to address the newfound religious beliefs and practices of Amie Townshend.
Although Amie Townshend testified that she had NOT joined any particular religion (her then living with her boyfriend without benefit of marriage might have had something to do with that), she apparently had adopted the religious beliefs and practices of the WatchTower Cult. Amie Townshend had stopped allowing the two children to celebrate their birthdays and all holidays. (While there are a few scattered "mountain religions" which do not permit the celebration of certain holidays, we know of no other religion other than the WatchTower Cult which forbids celebration of both birthdays and ALL holidays.) The court-appointed guardian ad litem testified that the children were adversely affected by the mother's change in regard to holiday celebrations and did not understand why this change had been made. The family court found that the children were confused by the mother's religious beliefs, including her failure to celebrate holidays and birthdays. Amongst many granted modifications to the parenting order, the majority of holidays and the children's birthdays were awarded to the father.
Amie Townshend then appealed the family court's decision to the local Circuit Court -- partially claiming that the family court had improperly used her religion as a factor in its decision. In affirming the family court's decision, the Circuit Court found that the family court "was appropriately concerned with the impact the [mother's] `new' religious beliefs was having upon her children," and that the family court properly took into account the oldest child's confusion at no longer being allowed to celebrate Christian holidays or birthdays in the manner to which she was accustomed. The circuit court specifically found that "[u]sing this issue as a factor in determining a change of custody . . . does not violate any right the [mother] has to practice her new religion," but merely represents the vast difference between it and "everything that the children have been raised with." The Circuit Court further found it was not in the best interests of the children to have their beliefs challenged in this manner by the mother.
Amie Wilson then appealed the Circuit Court's decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court -- partially claiming that the lower courts had violated her constitutional rights by granting preference to one religion over another. The court differentiated this case from their 1959 decision in BOND v. BOND, in which they overturned a lower court ruling which had disallowed the JW Parent from holding WatchTower Cult meetings in the former marital home, which had restrained that JW Parent's constitutional right to freedom of religion. Here, the West Virginia Supreme Court stated, in part:
We find that the instant case is distinguishable from Bond. In Bond, the mother was specifically enjoined from practicing her religion in the jointly-held former marital home by the court. In the case sub judice, the lower courts were careful to place no restriction on the mother's religious practices. Here, there is no restriction whatsoever on the mother's practice of her religion. The mother remains free to practice her faith and to worship in any manner without interference by the courts. The situation the lower courts were addressing was the direct effect of the mother's actions on her children. We find that this, among the other factors considered by the lower courts, is a permissible factor to be considered and does not run afoul of the admonitions and holdings in Bond. Thus, we conclude that the family court did not abuse its discretion in the manner alleged by the mother. The mother's personal exercise of her religion is not limited or constrained by the family court ordering shared custodial responsibility and decision-making. The circuit court did not err by upholding the family court's order.
IAN A. PIERSON v. JENNIFER L. PIERSON is an ongoing 2012-14 Florida appellate court case which is yet another recent Florida child custody case in which the non-JW custodial parent walked into the courtroom with the right idea, but then failed to adequately demonstrate those ideas to the court -- this time, the appellate court. (See M.G. v. J.G. below.)
The Piersons had three children in 2003, 2005, and 2009. The three children were reared as Catholics until Jennifer Pierson sought a divorce in 2012. Ian Pierson became a Jehovah's Witness after the couple separated. Thus, the children's religious training became a major issue in the divorce.
At trial, Dr. Charlotte Chadik, a licensed psychotherapist, testified on behalf of Jennifer Pierson. Dr. Chadik was the Director of Family Ministries at the mother's Catholic church, and served as the "communication link" between teachers at the church and the parents. When asked WHETHER SHE WAS AWARE of any problems the oldest nine year-old Son might be having in Sunday School, Chadik merely RELAYED that the oldest son's SS teacher had told her about his behavior on ONE DAY, which included telling the teacher and students that (1) the music they were listening to was wrong, (2) that the Bible they were using was wrong, (3) that there was no Heaven, (4) that priests were bad, and (5), that he was going to grow up to be a Jehovah's Witness minister. Apparently, that SS teacher could not make it to court that day. Neither does the court record indicate that Chadik used her professional skills to "interpret" those beliefs and their detrimental effects on the child's development for the court. When Jennifer Pierson was asked during the trial if she had an objection to Ian Pierson exposing the children to his WatchTower beliefs, she simply expressed her CONCERN that it was "confusing" for the children.
Despite such limited "evidence", the trial court managed to find the "beginnings of a substantial emotional problem" in only that single oldest child, as a result of "being immersed in and exposed to two religions simultaneously." Based upon the "demonstrated harm" (required in Florida -- see top of page), the trial court ordered "shared parental responsibility", with the mother having the "ultimate" religious decision-making authority for the children. The trial court prohibited the father "from doing anything in front of the children or around the children that disparages or conflicts with the Catholic religion." It also prohibited the mother from disparaging the father's religious beliefs in front of the children.
On appeal, Carolyn Wah, WatchTower Society Attorney, likely considered it "light work" to convince this appellate court to overturn the trial court's decision. Here are pertinent excerpts from that appellate court decision:
... Restrictions upon a noncustodial parent's right to expose his or her child to his or her religious beliefs have consistently been overturned in the absence of a clear, affirmative showing that the religious activities at issue will be harmful to the child. ...
In the present case, while Dr. Chadik testified about what she was told regarding the parties' oldest son's behavior in one Sunday School class, she did not testify in her capacity as a psychotherapist. There was no evidence presented that Dr. Chadik or any other professional ever spoke to or evaluated the child. Nor was there any evidence presented that the parties' two younger children were harmed by their exposure to the father's religious beliefs or activities. While the mother's concern that exposure to two different religions could confuse the children may be reasonable, neither that concern nor the evidence presented below established the requisite showing of harm to grant the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority for the children and to restrict the father from doing anything in front of the children or around the children that conflicts with the Catholic religion.
In contrast ... the Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed a restriction prohibiting the father, a Jehovah's Witness, from "exposing or permitting any other person to expose his minor children to any religious practices or teachings inconsistent with the Catholic religion." See LeDoux v. LeDoux ... (Neb 1990). In doing so, the court set out in detail the evidence presented by the children's mother as to the negative effects on the children of being exposed to the father's religion. ... In affirming, the court found that a review of the [trial court] record, which included testimony from a certified clinical psychologist who evaluated one of the children, disclosed no abuse of discretion on the trial court's part given that there was ample evidence to conclude that the stress one of the children was experiencing, which was caused in part by his exposure to disparate religions, posed an immediate and substantial threat to his well being. ...
Unlike the situation in LeDoux, the only evidence in this case that was presented below in support of the religious restriction pertained to one incident involving one of the three children. Because the evidence did not establish the harm necessary to award the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority and to restrict the father from doing anything in front of or around the children that conflicts with the Catholic religion, we reverse the amended judgment accordingly.
There you have it. Since 1990, LeDoux has presented the winning formula for attorneys who are representing non-JW parents in "Actual or Substantial Harm" states. No point winning at trial level if the decision is certain to be overturned at the appellate level.
JOSHUA JORDAN MEDURI v. NATASHA SERRAO MEDURI is an ongoing 2011-14 North Carolina child custody contest. Joshua Meduri, Natasha Meduri, and their four parents were all Jehovah's Witnesses (possibly multi-generations given their outdated WatchTower beliefs/practices against "vaccinations").
Joshua J. Meduri and Natasha S. Meduri were married in December 2004, and they had two children prior to separating in February 2010. Joshua Meduri filed for divorce in February 2011, and judgement was granted in May 2011. The divorce decree incorporated a "Contract of Separation and Property Settlement Agreement", which the parties had entered in October 2010. That agreement gave Joshua Meduri physical custody of the two children, with Natasha Meduri receiving visitation every other weekend, and whenever mutually agreeable to both parties -- which was liberally exercised such that Natasha regularly saw and cared for the children.
Soon after the divorce, Joshua Meduri married his already pregnant girlfriend, who delivered their first child in September 2011. When problems arose with his local Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, Joshua Meduri began attending a U-U Church. Initially, Joshua and Natasha agreed that each of them (including both sets of JW GrandParents) could take the children to their own church and Kingdom Hall during their own custodial time. However, as should have been anticipated, the probable "shunning" of Joshua by his own JW Parents and other JWs eventually caused Joshua to forbid the children's attendance at the Kingdom Hall during his own custodial time periods.
In November 2012, Natasha Meduri filed a "Motion to Modify Custody Agreement", which requested joint legal and physical custody of the children. In September 2013, the trial court concluded there had been a material and substantial change in circumstances that affected the welfare of the children, and that modifying the prior custody order was in the best interests of the children. The trial court awarded joint physical and legal custody of the children to both parents. On Joshua's appeal, in July 2014, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina reversed and remanded -- finding that the trial court had erred in concluding there was a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the children that warranted modification of the prior child custody agreement. That decision stated in part:
... the trial court found that Plaintiff's marriage and his separation from the Jehovah's Witness faith "has changed the nature of events (both family and religious) in which the children can participate." There is no evidence to support the finding that Plaintiff's marriage affected, or will negatively affect, the welfare of the children. Since Plaintiff's marriage, his wife has become involved with the children and attends parent-teacher conferences. Plaintiff's marriage was not a substantial change that has affected the welfare of the children. The trial court found that Plaintiff's change of religion caused confusion in the children "because of the differences in the homes and the rules that ha[d] been put in place to respect both [Plaintiff's and Defendant's] choices." According to the trial court, this impacted the children's relationships with their grandparents, "and that change has affected the children[,]" but has not indicated how confusion on the part of the children has negatively impacted the children, nor how the change in relationship with their grandparents "has affected" them. Defendant agreed at the 24-25 July 2013 hearing that she and Plaintiff had worked out the issues surrounding Plaintiff's change of faith and how to handle that change with respect to the children.
Finally, in finding of fact 8.j., the trial court found: "[Plaintiff] has made medical decisions without consulting [Defendant]. This has directly affected the children in that they are now vaccinated against [Defendant's] wishes." This finding is supported by substantial evidence; however, there is no indication or finding that vaccinating the children negatively impacted the children.
ILLINOIS v. SHANA C. was a 2009-12 child custody case in which the State of Illinois sought and obtained termination of the parental rights of a Jehovah's Witness Mother, styled "Shana C.", of Rockford, Illinois, whom was declared "unfit", because she failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility as to the welfare of her three children; she did not comply with court orders regarding counseling and psychological evaluations; and despite court orders, she continued to allow her three children to have contact with their father, "Javier C.", (whom had no parental rights) who was indicated by DCFS for sexual penetration to a minor and had failed to successfully complete sex offender treatment.
The appellate court, which upheld the trial court's decision, noted that this was a Jehovah's Witness family, noted that Shana C. testified regarding their WatchTower beliefs and practices during the trial, noted that Shana C. would bring WatchTower materials to the children during the years they were in foster care, and noted Shana C.'s concern that the three children would not be permitted to attend meetings at their local Kingdom Hall.
LANGLEY v. LANGLEY was a 2010-12 Connecticut case. Mark Langley, age 42, met Oxana Langley, age 32, through an online social network service for Jehovah Witnesses in 2003. Oxana and her son lived in Moscow, Russia. Mark Langley flew to Moscow in 2003 to meet Oxana. The couple also traveled to Siberia to meet Oxana's family. Upon the Mark's return to Connecticut, the parties continued their on-line relationship until 2004, when the parties agreed to marry.
On October 19, 2004, the plaintiff (Mark) and the defendant (Oxana) married for the first time. The plaintiff, the defendant, and her son lived in Hebron, Connecticut. Both the defendant and her son spoke little English when they moved to Connecticut. The defendant did not have any friends other than the people she met through the Jehovah's Witnesses. The defendant felt very isolated, and at times felt depressed. She would occasionally drink alcohol to excess which made the marriage difficult. In November 2005, the defendant's son decided to move back to Moscow making the defendant sadder, feeling more alone, and increasing the stress in the marriage.
On October 12, 2006, the plaintiff filed for divorce. When the defendant was served, the defendant questioned the plaintiff about the divorce documents. The plaintiff told the defendant not to worry about them, and that she did not have to do anything. On March 1, 2007, the plaintiff went to court on his own and obtained a dissolution of marriage by default. The plaintiff went home that night, had dinner with the defendant, and then they both attended the Kingdom Hall together. When they returned home, at 10:30 PM, the plaintiff informed the defendant that they were no longer married. The defendant gathered her belongings and left the home.
On March 8, 2008, seven days later, the plaintiff remarried the defendant by a justice of the peace at their home in Hebron, Connecticut. The plaintiff filed, but withdrew, two additional petitions for the dissolution of the marriage. This fourth and final action was filed on February 9, 2009.
During the course of the marriage, the plaintiff provided everything to the defendant. The plaintiff would not let the defendant get her driver's license so that she could not leave the house unless driven by the plaintiff or a friend. The defendant sporadically worked cleaning houses, and she was able to do so because the plaintiff drove her to work. According to the plaintiff, he provided food and shelter to the defendant, and therefore, she did not need anything else. She attended to all his needs. She felt captive. In 2008, the defendant sought the help of a friend and obtained a Connecticut drivers' license. The plaintiff had an automobile he was not using. The plaintiff fixed it up and allowed the defendant to use it. When the plaintiff did not want the defendant to leave the house, he would take the air out of the tires.
The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was abusive emotionally and physically. The plaintiff provided evidence of incidents to support the defendant's abusive behavior. When the defendant consumed alcohol, she would raise her voice towards the plaintiff and become irrational. The plaintiff would agitate the situation by recording the defendant during these occasions. The plaintiff claims that he recorded the incidents for his protection. The plaintiff introduced as evidence one such recording. The evidence showed an incident of a woman crying and upset because her husband left her alone one Christmas Eve until shortly before midnight. The recording did not show any signs of physical or emotional abuse. In February 2009, the plaintiff filed for a restraining order seeking protection from the defendant. The parties were still living together when on February 28, 2009, the plaintiff called the police and had the defendant arrested for violating a restraining order. A criminal protective order was then issued.
With regard to the lack of financial info which Mark Langley provided to this court, the court stated:
"The court is surprised at the level of detail the plaintiff was able to provide to support the claim of generosity towards his wife and the lack of detail he was able to provide with respect to his personal and business financial records."
Granting the petition for divorce, the court noted, in part:
The marriage between the parties was volatile since the beginning. The parties often sought counseling from their church elders. The plaintiff married a person he barely knew. He brought her to this country and lived in a rural part of Connecticut. The plaintiff is controlling and manipulative. The court does not find the plaintiff credible.
The defendant felt isolated, depressed and alone. The defendant drank occasionally increasing her feeling and making the marriage more difficult.
The court finds the plaintiff to be at greater fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
In August 2012, Mark Langley lost a state court appeal.
ANOTHER MADE-IN-HEAVEN OVERSEAS JEHOVAH'S WITNESS ONLINE MARRIAGE. Which JW got the crappiest end of this stick? Danish JW Husband and American JW Wife met online in a Jehovah's Witness chat room in December 2002, and thereafter had daily contact through email and instant messaging. The two JWs met in person for the first time in July 2003, when Danish JW Male traveled to JW Female's home in Georgia, USA.
Danish JW Male returned to Georgia USA for the second time in April 2004, and married JW Female in October 2004. Interestingly, on October 16, 2004, Danish Male JW was arrested for public intoxication and battery on the arresting police officer and a responding EMT. More interestingly, despite having injured both the arresting police officer and an EMT, Danish Male JW was merely ordered to pay costs, and his sentence of 60 days imprisonment was suspended on the condition that he would not commit another criminal offense for two years. JW Male returned to Denmark in November 2004.
Thereafter, Danish JW Male's Application For Admission to the U.S. was denied. JW Wife visited JW Husband in Denmark in May 2005. The denial of Danish JW Male's Application For Admission to the U.S. was appealed. The 2010 Appeal record gives rise to the posed opening question.
In addition to the 2004 criminal conviction, it was uncovered that, in July 1995, Danish JW Male had been found guilty of beating his former spouse, tearing her hair, kicking her in the groin, and attempting to strangle her. Another "interesting" sentence of 40 day's imprisonment was suspended, and Danish JW Male was ordered to perform unidentified community service. The Appeal record further indicated that Danish Male JW was unemployed as of the time of application, and that he lived with his parents.
The Appeal Record also disclosed that American JW Wife had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, psoriatric arthritis, depression, neuropathic pain, and protein-S deficiency resulting in DVT. American JW Wife was employed as a "paraprofessional educator", although she hoped to pursue a degree in early childhood development. American JW Wife also lived with her parents, who both were in very poor health.
JAIMI LYNN LUDY v. TIMOTHY M. LUDY was a March 2013 marriage dissolution court case. Details unknown. Timothy Ludy was a member of the Wellsville, Ohio Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, who became nationally known laying the groundwork for the famous WATCHTOWER SOCIETY v. VILLAGE OF STRATTON 2002 SCOTUS decision which opened the door for brazen door-knocking CRIMINALS to take advantage of innocent homeowners across the United States. (Readers should be aware that the exact same circumstances that gave rise to the STRATTON case had existed for decades in multiple small municipalities across the United States. However, just like the biblical stalking "lion", the WatchTower Cult took its time "cherrypicking" a defendant municipality UNABLE TO ADEQUATELY DEFEND a constitutional court case. The grand population of Stratton, Ohio was 277.)
See also: IN RE TIMOTHY M. LUDY, a May 2014 Ohio federal Chapter 7 bankruptcy court case.
See also: IN RE JAIMI LYNN LUDY, an October 2014 Ohio federal Chapter 13 bankruptcy court case.
See also: INTEGRATIVE STAFFING GROUP LLC v. JAIMI L. LUDY, ET AL, a 2008 Pennsylvania federal civil contract court case.
CALIFORNIA v. DUANE DEON JONES was a 1988-2011 California criminal court case in which African-American Duane D. Jones, was ordered paroled in 2011 by the California judiciary after repeatedly being denied by the Parole Board. Duane Jones was serving an indeterminate life term for a conviction of robbery and kidnapping to commit robbery, with a use of firearm enhancement. Jones was only 17 years-old when he committed this crime. The California courts particularly noted that on his release Duane Deon Jones was planning on living with his Jehovah's Witness Parents. Duane Jones' father was an ELDER at the Lancaster California Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
JAMIE HENSLEY JONES v. DUANE DEON JONES. By 2013, Duane D. Jones and his recent wife were living in Fresno County, California, where they were separated and the pregnant wife was apparently seeking a divorce. She also sought and was awarded a five-year restraining order for herself and her three other children.
NIGERIAN JEHOVAH'S WITNESS INTERNET ROMANCE SCAM. It has been reported to us that one or more Nigerians -- who is/are extremely familiar with the beliefs and practices of the WatchTower Society -- have been successfully scamming a number of Jehovah's Witnesses living in the United States. The scams include a variety of appeals for money, including the following online romance reported to us by one of the victim's relatives.
A highly-educated third-generation Jehovah's Witness Widow, who is a retired elementary schoolteacher, reportedly began an online romance with someone claiming to be a JW Male living in Nigeria. JW Male claimed to have a high-paying job working on offshore oil-drilling platforms. The online romance rapidly advanced to the point that Nigerian JW Male agreed to use his vacation time to fly to the United States to get personally acquainted with JW Widow, her family, and her local congregation. However, just a few days or so before his planned departure date, Nigerian JW Male emailed JW Widow to inform her that his trip to the United States had to be postponed for at least another six months, or maybe a year, until Nigerian JW Male again had built up sufficient vacation time. The reason? There had been a glitch with his employer's monthly payroll deposit --- delaying that deposit until after his departure date. Nigerian JW Male had already emptied his bank account getting all his bills paid up before he left for the United States. Nigerian JW Male had been counting on this latest monthly payroll deposit, which included his vacation pay, to pay for his merely "reserved" airlines tickets, and other necessary travel expenses. JW Widow would not tell if she offered first, or whether Nigerian JW Male asked first, but as most readers have already suspected, JW Widow ended up wiring "several thousands" of dollars to Nigerian JW Male. JW Widow never heard from Nigerian JW Male again after the money was picked up. One can only wonder how many other lonely American Jehovah's Witness Females have fallen for this Nigerian's scam.
In April 2012, some Australian media sources published various news articles praising an elderly Tasmanian Jehovah's Witness "Convert's" newfound religious conscience. The JW Convert confessed to police the torching of his own automobile in 1994, and the torching of his own rental house in 1995 -- both for the insurance proceeds. However, as it turns out, much of this "miracle" is typical Jehovah's Witness BULLS***.
One anonymous Australian source alleges that, in fact, this "JW Convert" actually has been a JW for decades, and one or more of his four adult sons are JW Elders. Decades ago, JW Convert was a prominent Australian JW Pioneer, and he and his family were sent to Tasmania by the WatchTower Society "to serve where the need was great". Anonymous Source alleges that JW Convert eventually had an affair with a female half his age -- whom JW Convert eventually married and had two daughters. At some point, JW Convert was disfellowshipped, and it was during this time period that he committed the two arsons. Rather than "converting" in 2004, JW Convert was then "reinstated". Interestingly, JW Convert's conscience did not get to bothering him until 2011 -- only after divorcing Wife #2, and becoming embroiled in a custody battle over their youngest daughter. Interestingly, JW Convert has since married Wife #3, and he is now advocating that his Wife #2 be prosecuted as an "accomplice" in his own nearly two decades old insurance scam. JW Convert has offered to testify against her as a way to lessen the sentence in his own prosecution. One can't help but wonder which came first -- the new JW girlfriend-wife, or the failed marriage-divorce? Hopefully, the local Prosecutor will see this scenario for what it is, and if not the Prosecutor, the eventual trier-of-fact.
ORLA VORIS v. MARK VORIS was a November 2011 Illinois appellate decision. Mark and Orla Voris were married in 1995, and had three children born between 2000 and 2005. In November 2009, an order was entered dissolving their marriage, along with an agreed parenting order, which granted Orla Voris custody of the children, with visitation rights to the noncustodial parent, Mark Voris. The agreed order provided that the three children would be encouraged to participate in school and extracurricular activities and events. The agreed order also provided that Mark Voris would refrain from exposing their three children to his Jehovah's Witness religion until each child reached 13 years of age.
In September 2010, Orla Voris filed her "Fourth Verified Post-Decree Petition for Rule to Show Cause and Emergency Petition of Supervised Visitation" alleging numerous, ongoing instances where Mark violated the terms of the agreed parenting order and that his violations were an attempt to undermine Orla's relationship as the custodial parent with their three children and were harming the well-being of the three children. After a three-day evidentiary hearing on Orla's petition, the court held that Mark Voris's visitation schedule would remain as stated in the original agreed parenting order, but it ordered that all visitation time going forward would be supervised. The court emphasized that its ruling was not because of Mark's religious beliefs but because it found that Mark was exploiting his religious beliefs to alienate their children from Orla, and that Mark's actions were confusing the children and harming their mental and emotional well-being. On the appeal of Mark Voris, the Illinois appellate court affirmed, stating in part:
The record is replete with evidence that Mark was using his religious faith as a tool to alienate the three children from their mother, Orla, his ex-wife. The record is also filled with evidence demonstrating that Mark's actions were having severe negative effects on the three children and endangering their emotional and mental well-being. One psychologist's expert report was submitted by the petitioner at trial on this issue. Mark did not rebut this psychologist's report with any expert report of his own that supported any contrary view regarding the deleterious effects his many actions had on the children. Mark also did not rebut the expert's conclusions that Mark suffered from mania, grandiose aspirations and lack of impulse control and substance abuse and that he scored within the dysfunctional range on the psychological testing, although he was given opportunity to present his side, including any contrary expert's analysis of his psychological state of mind. To the extent that Mark submitted his testimony and argument as an attempt to rebut the expert's report, such attempt failed as the court found Mark's testimony entirely incredible.
PATRICIA MARIE ALBRECHT v. KEITH VINCENT ALBRECHT is an ongoing 1999-2012 Montana Divorce case which most recently involved Keith Albrecht's attempt to have a Final Order of Protection dissolved so that he could attend the Spanish-speaking services at the Bozeman, Montana Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, which ex-wife Patricia Albrecht also regularly attends. The trial court upheld Patricia Albrecht's desire to continue the FOP on a legal technicality, but such was remanded on Keith Albrecht's appeal. Outcome unknown.
HARRISON v. TAUHEED was a 2009-11 Kansas child custody case. In 2002, a Witchita, Kansas Jehovah's Witness, named Monica Harrison, now Monica Mitchell, had a son, J.D. Harrison, out-of-wedlock with a Muslim college student, named Adiel Tauheed. Tauheed later moved to California to attend graduate school, and eventually married another female.
Monica filed this paternity action in June 2006, when J.D.H. was four years old. In February 2009, when J.D.H. was almost seven years old, the state district court issued its custody ruling that ordered Monica and Tauheed to share joint legal custody of J.D.H. The court also awarded residential custody to Monica, with Tauheed getting JDH during spring break, summer, and alternating weekends and holidays. Tauheed appealed and claimed that the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard, which resulted in the court's failure to consider evidence about Monica's religious beliefs and practices as a Jehovah's Witness. Tauheed claimed that Monica's religious WatchTower beliefs and practices adversely affected or could adversely affect J.D.H. in the future. In 2010, the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the trial court ruling, stating in part:
We hold that a parent's religious beliefs and practices may not be considered by the trial court as a basis to deprive that parent of custody unless there is a showing of actual harm to the health or welfare of the child caused by those religious beliefs and practices.
The majority opinion contains a lengthy and rambling review and "spin" of the trial court case and Kansas precedent. Don't allow "quantity" to fool the reader. It is obvious that between a Jehovah's Witness Mother and a MUSLIM baby-daddy, that the Kansas Court was going to interpret the facts and Kansas law in such a fashion that custody would remain with the JW Mother. In a lengthy dissent, the dissenting judge pointed out the reality of what had occurred at trial level:
I respectfully disagree with the majority's conclusion that the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding primary residential custody in this case. I would remand this case to the district court based on the district court's failure to fully and consistently apply the "best interests of the child" standard in determining residential custody. Further, remand is appropriate because the district court erroneously concluded it could not consider factors relating to a parent's religious practices, even if those practices adversely impacted the child's interests.
The majority opinion cites as support Kansas precedents pertaining to JW custody, JACKSON v. JACKSON, and SINCLAIR v. SINCLAIR. Researchers should read this website's summary of these two cases to get "the rest of the story". For example, few readers would know that the JW Mother in JACKSON had been diagnosed as a "psychopath" by her own psychiatrist, and the Kansas trial court and the appellate court refused to consider such in their decisions.
In August 2011, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals and trial court rulings, stating in part:
We are of the view that neither the majority opinion nor the dissenting opinion from the Court of Appeals got the standard for consideration of a parent's religion in child custody proceedings completely correct, ...
Instead, what we discern in our previous cases, including Sinclair, is an attempt to differentiate between religious beliefs on the one hand and religiously motivated actions or conduct with implications for the paramount best interests of the child on the other. Disapproval of mere belief or nonbelief cannot be a consideration in a custody determination -- judges are not trained to mediate theological disputes. Yet consideration of religiously motivated behavior with an impact on a child's welfare cannot be ignored. It is one of the many relevant factors that must be part of the holistic custody calculus required under Kansas law. ... ...
Okay. So, what "religiously motivated actions or conduct " did the trial judge decide was NOT detrimental to J.D.H., and thus no business of the Court? Excerpts from the Kansas Supreme Court opinion:
During Monica's cross-examination, her counsel objected to questions about her religious beliefs. The district court permitted the questions as "fair cross." Monica testified that she was a member of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of the Jehovah's Witness religion. Her faith, she said, prohibits the celebration of certain events, such as holidays and birthdays, as well as saluting the flag, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and serving in the military. Certain extracurricular activities, such as sports, also are not encouraged. Monica testified that J.D.H. was not involved in school-related extracurricular activities. She also testified that her faith discouraged ,"unwholesome relationships" which are distractions that deter a believer from doing what he or she is supposed to be doing. Relationships with some who are not Jehovah's Witnesses qualify as unwholesome associations. According to Monica's faith, all who reject Jehovah will be annihilated. She also testified about her religious practice of going door-to-door "witnessing" with J.D.H. and said that Adiel had been accommodating about her beliefs, as well as the religious training J.D.H. was receiving from her.
Monica also responded to a hypothetical scenario posed on cross-examination, saying that she would not consent to a blood transfusion even if it were necessary to save J.D.H.'s life. However, she also testified that, if such circumstances arose, she would talk to Adiel. ... ... ...
Meighan Peifer, an early childhood educator, testified regarding time J.D.H. spent in her educational facility in Kansas City, where J.D.H. attended when he was in Kansas City with his father. Peifer described certain incidents with J.D.H. as "odd." In one, J.D.H. "froze" during a school performance. In the other, J.D.H. was unresponsive when another student asked J.D.H. to come to his house. She said that J.D.H. was shaking and saying, "[N]o, my mom said no, that it was wrong," when there was a school parade coinciding with the Fourth of July. Peifer expressed concern that J.D.H. was not developing personal autonomy, although all of his development in other areas was on target for his age. She said she had referred the family to a child psychiatrist because "something was off" for J.D.H. Peifer described Adiel as a very involved parent, and she said she believed it was very important that J.D.H. be able to make his own choices about religious practices or "emotionally, it is [going to] scar him for life."
Adiel's mother ... testified about two incidents in which J.D.H. grew upset while with her. At a birthday celebration for his grandfather, J.D.H. stated "I broke my promise" not to celebrate birthdays. Another time, when at his uncle's house, J.D.H. refused to go inside because there was a flag outside of the door, which he described as an "idol." ...
Having reset the standard, and having reconsidered the evidence, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled:
... The only question, therefore, is whether the district court properly employed a best interests of the child analysis, ... ...
Turning to the question of whether the district judge correctly applied this clarified legal standard when arriving at his initial custody determination in this case, we conclude that the judge properly distinguished between religious belief and religiously motivated conduct having an impact on the best interests of the child. Despite his protestations to the contrary, it is apparent from the judge's memorandum decision that he did in fact consider religiously motivated action. But he stopped there. He did not improperly consider religious belief alone or allow speculation about conduct potentially affecting the child. ... ...
The judge divided Adiel's concerns based on Monica's religious beliefs and practices into the following categories: (1) "Father contends that the Mother's religious practices are alienating him from his son"; (2) "Father further contends that Mother's religious practices are creating problems for his son's social interactions with other children"; (3) "Father contends that [J.D.H] is being forced to participate in activities associated with the Jehovah's Witnesses which are not in his best interests"; and (4) "Father contends that the Jehovah's Witness prohibition on blood transfusion, and the Mother's reluctance to disavow this prohibition as it relates to the possible future medical needs of [J.D.H.], creates an unacceptable risk that [J.D.H.] would not receive medically necessary healthcare."
In regard to the claim that J.D.H. experienced social anxiety in connection with holiday celebrations, the district court stated: "While this is a concern to the Court, ultimately the Court must respect Mother's religious practices. Case law which is binding precedent on this Court prohibits consideration of matters directly associated with decisions a parent makes in an effort to put into practice the teachings of that parent's faith." With respect to J.D.H. disliking going door-to-door with his mother to teach about the Jehovah's Witnesses, the judge stated: "Kansas case law prohibits the Court from considering these factors." He nevertheless went on to find that "these activities do not appear to have any adverse impact on [J.D.H.]." We first observe that it is ever important for any district judge examining claims such as those advanced by Adiel to analyze whether any anxiety, doubt, frustration, or guilt a child may suffer from being identified with a particular religious group is due to our society's tendency to bestow public recognition or endorsement upon a different, dominant religious group. The district judge in this case appears to have grasped this point. And, because of the district judge's factual finding that J.D.H. did not seem to be adversely affected, we need not further discuss here whether a child's general discomfort or uneasiness stemming from participation in a parent's religious practices can ever influence a custody decision in favor of the other parent.
Adiel also argued to the district judge that he was being alienated from his son because the Jehovah's Witnesses believe only they will survive annihilation, a claim the district judge stated "is a particularly thorny issue for the Court to wade through." The judge stated: "The teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, including those that teach non-Jehovah's Witnesses will suffer annihilation, may not be considered by this Court in deciding custody issues." He went on to state, however, that "while Mother has the constitutional right to raise [J.D.H.] as a Jehovah's Witness, she cannot hide behind this right to alienate [J.D.H.] from his father" and that "Mother should respect the bond [J.D.H.] has with his father." In other words, the judge properly disregarded Monica's religious belief alone, while noting that her professed belief could not be used to shield inquiry into acts of alienation.
The district judge was most clearly troubled with Monica's beliefs concerning blood transfusions. He stated: "Of greater concern to the Court is the practice by Jehovah's Witnesses prohibiting the use of blood products. ... [I]t was clear to the Court that Mother was not going to disavow the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses on the use of blood products." He urged this court to reconsider what he believe to be Beebe's rule prohibiting consideration of a religious practice discouraging medical treatment. The district judge also noted Johnson's revised recommendation at trial based on Monica's testimony regarding the use of blood products, but he determined that "the limited case manager's revised recommendation is of little use since it depends in no small part on consideration of factors which the Court constitutionally may not take into account." Although it obviously made the district court uncomfortable, he proceeded correctly, albeit for the wrong reason. It would not have been appropriate for him to speculate about an unlikely future event; and, in fact, Monica testified that she would consult Adiel in the event a blood transfusion was recommended for J.D.H. In such a case, Adiel would be empowered to consent to the treatment for his minor son.
WHAT A BUNCH OF MORONS -- OR GENIUSES!! Again, the Muslim Baby-Daddy never stood a chance. Start with your decision, and then back into it with whatever reasoning gets you there.
SNYDER v. SPAULDING is a continuing 2010 Montana child custody case, which WatchTower Legal probably counts as a another blessing like HARRISON above. Sharon K. Snyder is the paternal grandmother of W.B.S. and D.C.S. Tanya N. Spaulding is the children's mother. Their father (Sharon's son) is deceased. Snyder appears to be a "New Ager", while Spaulding is a Jehovah's Witness. Tanya Spaulding objected to her two children having contact with Snyder, but after Snyder filed a petition for grandparent visitation in September 2007, Spaulding eventually stipulated to visitation on alternating Saturdays, three days during Christmas/winter break from school, and one week during the summer. The District Court entered an order adopting the stipulation in May 2008. In August 2009, Spaulding terminated contact between Sharon Snyder and the two children.
... According to Tanya, a number of factors led to this decision. First, she had recently seen a manuscript, written by Sharon about her own life, which Tanya found greatly disturbing. In it, Sharon expressed the view that W.B.S. is a "crystal child" who has "healing hands" and can "see the future." ... In a letter to Tanya, Sharon suggested that Tanya, "as a responsible parent," ... should see to it that W.B.S. receives all the help he can get as he grows in his abilities. Sharon also suggested that she (Sharon) was the person to provide W.B.S. with the help and guidance he needs. These beliefs conflicted with Tanya's beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. Second, Tanya felt that Sharon was discrediting Tanya's family beliefs and interfering with Tanya's parenting of the children. Tanya stated that Sharon was instilling certain views in the children against Tanya's express wishes. Moreover, Tanya believed that Sharon was encouraging the children to be deceptive toward Tanya, and she noted that W.B.S. was hostile and distant toward her following his visits with Sharon. Lastly, Tanya cited Sharon's "mental health issues," and in this regard, she pointed to Sharon's claim in the manuscript that she (Sharon) had been reborn as a different person with a different name and memories. Tanya concluded that Sharon should not be around the children and that contact between Sharon and the children was not in the children's best interests. ...
Spaulding filed a motion in the District Court in September 2009 to terminate the court-ordered contact between Snyder and the children. The District Court held a hearing in December 2009, at the conclusion of which it denied Spaulding's motion to terminate, and held Spaulding in contempt of the court's May 2008 order adopting the stipulation. Spaulding appealed. In July 2010, the Montana Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case, and directed the lower court to do what it failed to do earlier -- determine the "fitness" of Spaulding as the children's parent. Thereafter, the trial court must allow Spaulding to present evidence that modification or termination of the visitation order is in the best interests of her children, or is necessary because the grandparent-grandchild contact previously ordered by the court is unduly interfering with Tanya's primary role in the children's upbringing.
J.S. v D.S. was a 2009-10 New York divorce case. Plaintiff husband sued defendant wife for divorce based on "constructive abandonment", i.e., lapse of sexual relations from 1998 until 2001, when JW Husband left JW Wife and moved in with a girlfriend. JW Wife denied that she refused to have sex with JW Husband, and stated that she did not want this divorce, and was willing to resume living with JW Husband despite his having lived with a girlfriend for the past nine years. Court dismissed this case. JW Husband alleged that he sought the advice of the JW Elders as to how to handle the deterioration of his marriage. He testified that he made several attempts on various occasion to have sexual relations with defendant. He would take her to dinner, bring her flowers, take her out for drinks with friends, go away to the Pocono's with friends from their Jehovah Witness [Kingdom Hall], but she still refused to have sexual relations with him. JW Wife stated that the reason that JW Husband left her in June 2001 was because that was when she discovered the then already going on affair with JW Husband's current girlfriend. JW Wife also soon thereafter discovered that she had a vaginal infection. During the trial, JW Husband was questioned as to why his 2008 Federal Income Tax return listed his live-in girlfriend as both his "sister", and a "dependent", and an "exemption". JW Husband replied that such must have been an error.
IN RE ZACHARIAH E. and IN RE ZACHARIAH E. are related 2010 California child custody decisions in which a California Jehovah's Witness Mother and Stepfather were fighting with their mentally unstable, drug-using, registered sex offender daughter over custody of that daughter's infant son, and Child Protective Services and the California Courts wound up siding with the mentally unstable, drug-using, registered sex offender daughter rather than the JW GrandParents. Curious why?? These cases are too lengthy and complex for further summary. Here is an interesting footnote from the first court decision which might whet a reader's appetite to click the links and read this extremely long and complex case:
Pangilinan (Child Welfare Worker) reported Cynthia (JW GrandMother) having said: "You should be careful because I heard of a little boy dying due to the CPS Worker's negligence and you don't want to be in that situation; You're the only Worker that has said bad things about us, we really didn't have a problem until you took over the case; We will go as far as we can and I will write to all my senators, Diane Feinstein and I will put your name on every piece of paper, that would put a bad light around you; You know what I'll do, I will make reports about Sabrina, since your not cooperating with us and since Sabrina is not letting us see the baby we'll just call another health and wellness check; You are causing us a lot of stress and distress, it's like punishment and mental abuse towards us; We are Jehovah's witnesses and we go door to door, and Berkeley is in our jurisdiction so if we by chance see her in Berkeley that's not our fault, that's our religious right; I have called [the pediatrician] and told him what you think of me and my husband." Cynthia also reportedly "tried to manipulate this CWW by bringing up the CWW's personal family information which was never disclosed to her including where this CWW lives."
HAYES v. HAYES was a 2009 Connecticut divorce case in which William H. Hayes testified that he was a Jehovah's Witness. After approximately ten years of marriage, Bill Hayes left Dorothy J. Hayes and moved in with his girlfriend. The contest was essentially over the property distribution.
M.G. v. J.G. was a 2010-11 Florida Circuit Court "child custody" decision relating to the 1998-9 marriage of two Jehovah's Witness Parents who divorced in 2008 after the wife "disassociated" herself out of the WatchTower Cult in 2006. The divorce judgment incorporated a marital settlement agreement. In 2010, Mother, who by then was employed as a Legal Assistant, filed a Supplemental Petition which asked for a modification to the time-sharing schedule and the parental responsibility order. Mother alleged that a "substantial change in circumstances" had occurred. Mother's argument of a "substantial change in circumstances" revolved around the fact that her former husband was using his shared parenting time with the couple's 11 year-old son and 8 year-old daughter to rear the children as "Jehovah's Witnesses" -- including teaching the children the WatchTower Cult's beliefs that apostates (former JWs) are evil; that apostates are required to be shunned; etc. However, not only had Mother exited the WatchTower Cult, but so had her own mother, the step-father that had reared her (a former JW Elder), some of her siblings/step-siblings, as well as her current live-in boyfriend. Thus, having her two children reared as apostate-hating Jehovah's Witnesses greatly impacts the way that her two children view and treat Mother's entire side of this family.
Legal Assistant Mother did an excellent job bringing her own mother, her step-father, a step-sister, and her boyfriend to testify in this matter. The court record includes some very insightful observations made by this court. Here are some interesting excerpts, in part:
The father's religion does not celebrate Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays that the mother now celebrates. The parties disagree about the children's religious upbringing, in general and about specific holidays and birthdays. The parties disagree about gift giving days such as Christmas and birthdays. ... They have disagreed about the children's religious upbringing since they separated.
Under the time-sharing schedule the children are always with the father on Sundays, either all day every other Sunday and also for not to exceed 3 hours on the alternate Sundays, so the father can take the children to his religious meetings and services on every Sunday. In fact he takes them to services in his religion every Sunday so the mother has no opportunity to take them to any other tradition on every Sunday because the father has them for 3 hours on alternate Sundays and all day on the other Sundays, and the 3 hours occupy the hours when most traditions hold services. This is what the original settlement agreement provides.
The father testified that the children are not "believers" and "members" of his religious tradition because they are not of sufficient age to become believers and members. There is no set age for a child to become a member. He said the age arrives when they are of a sufficient maturity and intelligence to comprehend the teachings and understand it, which may not arrive until many years after they are legal adults or may arrive before they are adults.
The father teaches the children to be respectful of their mother and he encourages them to be with their mother. There is no evidence to the contrary. The time-sharing schedule in practice is an "equal" schedule. The father has backed up the mother on discipline issues so that they present a united front to the children. He encourages them to have a relationship with their mother. He also teaches them his religious beliefs, which includes a teaching that nonbelievers of his tradition, such as the children's mother, are not to be associated with and that spiritual matters should never be discussed with nonbelievers, including a nonbelieving parent.
The parties agreed to participate in parenting coordination in the settlement agreement incorporated into the judgment, and they entered into a written Stipulation & Order Appointing Parenting Coordinator that was filed on 1/20/2010. ... The process stopped because of the father's refusal to participate. ... ...
The father says both children are being taught his religious tradition and they have been taught this tradition for their whole lives. In particular, the children are taught to "shun" nonbelievers, even a parent who is a nonbeliever. The tradition teaches them that they must limit or end altogether all contact and associations with nonbelieving family members and friends.
The father does not prohibit the children from following the time-sharing schedule and there is no substantial, competent evidence that he interferes with the children going to the mother's house for about half of the time each week, but the father also teaches the children the beliefs of his religious tradition, which includes "shunning" and "disassociation" with nonbelievers, even nonbelieving family members. The mother's fear that in time the children will stop associating with her is a realistic fear. This is what has happened to the "disassociated" witnesses who testified as witnesses for the mother.
The father's religious tradition also requires that believers must not allow certain ordinary and generally accepted medical treatments to be performed on them or their children. The mother and the father disagree about this teaching, the mother believing that these medical treatments are acceptable for her and the children, while the father says these are prohibited for him and the children.
The mother did leave the father's religious tradition. She stopped practicing the tradition in 11/2006, before the parties separated and before the divorce was final. In the last couple of years, according to the father, the mother decided to start celebrating birthdays and other holidays during the year. The mother did not dispute this testimony. ... ...
The mother is concerned that her daughters will "shun" her if they become members of the father's religious tradition, at some point in the future, because this will be required of them by the organization given that she is now "disassociated" from the group. This is a realistic possibility, given the teachings of the tradition.
[Mother's Step-father] explained that if a child is living with a "disassociated" parent, or spending time with that parent, the child may discuss only mundane matters with the parent, "where are my books?", "please pass the bread", etc., and may not discuss any "spiritual" matters at all with that "disassociated" parent, just as they cannot discuss these matters with any unbeliever. He said a child is discouraged from spending time with that parent. However, the father denied that he does this and the evidence shows the children are spending half the time with the mother every week.
[Mother's Step-father] explained, however, that in practice, a child of a father who is in the tradition and a mother who is out of the tradition absorbs the group's disassociation from the mother, and in his experience it is "rarely the case" that this child can maintain a relationship with the mother.
[Mother's mother] ... testified that she was "cut-off" from her "natural birth family" when she [joined the Jehovah's Witnesses] because they were unbelievers. After she "stopped going" to the organization, her friends, including her "best friend", stopped associating with her.
... As the [Mother's Step-father] testified, "by age 10", they are fully informed of the doctrines of the tradition.
[Mother's mother] says she fears that the children are quizzed by the father about the practices in the mother's home, particularly over celebrations of birthdays and holidays and presents received in connection with these. She has heard the father quizzing them about such matters.
Thus the children are stuck in the middle of their parents' dysfunction arising from the parents' different religious convictions.
As [Mother's mother] sees it, the children are "not allowed to love us without restraint" because of the father's and the mother's different religious convictions and she fears that the children's relationship with their mother and their mother's unbelieving or disassociated family members is less than free and easy.
[Mother's Boyfriend] also testified ... . After he finally left [the Jehovah's Witnesses] altogether, he has had minimal contact with his mother, and his two sisters have not spoken to him in 5 years. His mother has limited the contact because she felt that their "conversations would be too superficial."
[Mother's Boyfriend's] greatest disagreement with the tradition is the effect it had on his family. His father left the fellowship when [Boyfriend] was about 14 and [he] was "strongly encouraged by his mother and the congregation" to limit his contact with his father. His younger sister also had minimal contact with their father. They were prohibited from having any "spiritual discussions" with their father.
[Mother's Boyfriend] sees the children when they are with the mother in the home and otherwise. The children love their mother, but they get upset and cry because they believe the "end times" will come shortly and then mother and [Mother's Boyfriend] will die but the children will live on, in keeping with the doctrines of the father's tradition. The children "go back and forth" wanting to "celebrate their birthdays" and get gifts, consistent with the mother's practice, and rejecting this practice, to be consistent with the father's teachings. ...
[Mother's step-sister] related testimony similar to that of the mother's other witnesses, that as a child and an adult she was told by followers of the father's tradition to limit her communication and relationships with nonbelievers of the tradition, including close family members.
She explained that the mother does not limit their communication with the father, that she does not quiz them about what they do with the father.
Two years ago, when the children were visiting in [Mother's step-sister's] home in North Carolina during December, [Mother's step-sister] gave a gift to each of them. She handed them the gifts, which she did not regard as Christmas presents and which she told the children were not Christmas gifts, and they started crying because they were told by their father that they would receive presents from [Mother's step-sister] on this visit, that these were Christmas presents, and they could not accept and open them.
She said that children are encouraged to be restricted in their relationship with parents and other family members who are outside of the father's tradition.
The father testified that he wants the children to have access to their mother, that he encourages the relationship, that he wants them to have a good relationship with their mother.
He also said that he teaches them his traditions and beliefs, which include "shunning" and "disassociation" with nonbelievers, including family members. He said that he talked to them about the December visit to [Mother's step-sister's] home in North Carolina, but he said that he told them not to be "stressed out" about the celebrations that might take place and the presents they might receive. Regardless of what he told them before and after that visit, it is noteworthy that the visit to the home of a nonbelieving family member in another state did take place, that the father did not oppose it, even though it is not strictly allowed by the time-sharing agreement in the original settlement agreement.
The father said he does not treat the mother any differently now that she is "outside" of his tradition. He says the children have "free will" and it is "their choice" if they adopt another religious tradition or none at all, but he also teaches them that they must accept his tradition. He says that if the mother decided to take them to services in another tradition on Sundays, he would "not like it", but he would not interfere or try to prevent this, even though under the time-sharing schedule the children are with him every Sunday during the year during the hours when most traditions hold services.
So, you think that you have a good feel for what the judge is going to decide in this case? Well, MOTHER LOST!! This judge says that Mother should have anticipated all this S**T back at the time of divorce. Good prosecution, but "too late" -- according to this judge. Also, Mother needed to be able to show demonstrable negative effects on the children and their relationship with their own mother, grandparents, aunts, uncle's, and their future step-father, from the children actually internalizing and practicing the WatchTower Cult's teachings re "shunning", etc. The judge "got" the teachings, and their "possibilities"; he simply didn't "see" any real demonstrable negative effects. It is the 21st century, and attorneys are still clueless as to how to attack the WatchTower's decades-old defenses. Amateurs versus professionals.
The mother has not carried her burden of proof. She has not proven there is a substantial change in circumstances since the Final Judgment was entered that was not contemplated at the time of the judgment. The question is not whether the mother or the father is a better parent. The question is not whether the father s religious tradition and organization or the mother s religious convictions are appropriate for the children. ... The question is whether there is a substantial change in circumstances since the judgment was entered that was not contemplated then and whether a change now proposed by the mother is in the children's best interest. The first part of this standard is not met by the mother's proof. The children are doing well under the schedule and the parents have demonstrated a capacity to share major parenting decisions since they separated even if they disagree about the religious training that the children should be given. They are now living out the consequences of their different religious convictions a difference that existed before they separated and divorced. There is no substantial change in circumstances.
WALTERS v. GOODMAN was a Arizona custody case which evidences typical "theocratic warfare strategy" produced and directed by the WatchTower Cult's Legal Department. Tamara Walters and Gregory Goodman, both Catholics, were divorced in 2003. Their marriage had produced two children.
Sometime around 2007, Tamara Walters began studying the Jehovah's Witness religion -- the standard procedure by which one "converts" to the WatchTower Cult. A Jehovah's Witness nanny had been "hired" by Tamara Walters, and that caretaker was stealthly "studying" with the two children. At trial, the Jehovah's Witness "nanny" swore that she had never initiated discussions of religion with the children, but rather had merely replied to their inquiries about such.
In a 2008 trial relating to custody, visitation, and other matters, Gregory Goodman planned on introducing evidence intended to expose the WatchTower Cult and its attempted conversion of his two children. Anticipating Goodman's attack, Walters stipulated that the two children would continue to be reared as Catholics, and moved for the court to exclude all evidence and testimony against the WatchTower religion. The Arizona trial and appellate courts swallowed the bait hook, line, and sinker, and excluded the exposing materials and testimony.
Goodman argues the trial court erred when it excluded evidence about a religious dispute. "This court will not disturb the trial court's rulings regarding the exclusion or admission of evidence unless a clear abuse of discretion appears and prejudice results." ... On the first day of trial, Walters stipulated the children would continue to be raised in the Catholic religion, and she moved to preclude both "testimony with respect to Catholicism versus Jehovah's Witnesses" and a treatise about the Jehovah's Witnesses religion-evidence that Goodman planned to introduce at trial. Goodman contended the evidence was "relevant" because the children's caretaker practiced the Jehovah's Witnesses religion, the children had participated in Bible studies with Jehovah's Witnesses "with no parent there," and "you cannot be exposed to Jehovah's Witness[es], that theology ... without their purpose being indoctrination." The court reserved ruling until it had heard from the children's caretaker. The caretaker testified that she is a practicing member of Jehovah's Witnesses but has never initiated any discussions about the religion with the children. She also stated that the children had asked her several questions about the religion but that she had never otherwise discussed the topic with them. At the beginning of trial the next day, the court granted Walters's motion and precluded the testimony of Goodman's religion witness.
Walters testified that she has no intention of changing the children's religion or indoctrinating them into a religion other than Catholicism. She testified that she is studying the Jehovah's Witnesses religion but is not a full member of the church and that she has also studied other religions.
The trial court ruled that "[b]oth children shall continue to be raised Catholic and attend Catholic school," and it set forth specific guidelines to accomplish this end, such as the children's attending Sunday Mass and participating in Confirmation. The court also ordered the children not to "be 'sequestered' with persons of the Jehovah['s] Witness Faith," not to "attend 'meetings' or other services of the Jehovah['s] Witness Faith," nor to read any "Jehovah['s] Witness Religious treatises, literature, copies of the 'Watchtower' or other written documents." Finally, the court ruled that the children's "[s]tudying of comparative religions shall be closely monitored and the studying of another religion under the guise of being a study of comparative religion when in fact it is proselytizing for that religion is not permitted."
Goodman has not explained how the proffered expert testimony would have changed the trial court's orders. Rather, the thrust of his argument appears to be that the court erred in believing Walters's assertion that she would abide by its orders. First, assessing the credibility of witnesses is a matter entirely within the discretion of the trial court. ... Second, Goodman has a remedy if Walters actually does fail to abide by the court's order. ... At this time, however, Goodman has shown neither error in the court's ruling nor resulting prejudice.
SHORT BIBLE TOPIC READINGS SELECTED FOR JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES
Wifely Subjection: Mental Health Issues in Jehovah's Witness Women
Blood Transfusions: A History and Evaluation of the Religious, Biblical, and Medical Objections (Jehovah's Witnesses perspective)
Blood, Medicine, and the Jehovah's Witnesses: The Hidden History of the Watchtower's Position on the Blood Issue
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Problem of Mental Illness
DEALING WITH JEHOVAH'S WITNESS CUSTODY CASES
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