The Family Custody Case Proceedings in England (1992)
In 1992, the mother of a Family member filed a case with Lord Justice Ward in England, requesting the custody of her unmarried daughter's child. The only grounds presented by the mother for the removal of the custody of her grandchild was her daughter's membership in The Family. The grandmother never suggested that her daughter was an unfit mother or that she had been deficient in her care of her son, a point carefully made by the intervening magistrate.
Although the member of The Family involved in this case was living outside of the country at the time, she obliged with the requests of the court and relocated to England to place herself at the disposition of Justice Ward. Despite the fact that this case was strictly a custody case involving a Family member and her mother, Justice Ward devoted several years to hearing both former member and current member witnesses, as well as scholars, studying Family literature, having social services evaluate the condition of the local Family community in England where this member resided before pronouncing his decision. The court hearing included a hearing that lasted an unprecedented 75 days in which 10,000 pages of evidence were presented. Justice Ward made note of the request of the local Family communities to be adjoined to the case, which he refused on the grounds that The Family as an entity of its own was not a party.
After three years of rigorous investigative work, in November 1995, Justice Ward emitted a lengthy ruling, in which he leveled harsh criticisms of past eras of The Family's history, while also concluding that The Family had undergone numerous positive changes and has been able to criticize certain past events and attitudes of the founder himself. He concluded that years earlier The Family had taken stringent measures to eradicate situations that could be sexually abusive to children, or any form of ill treatment that would impair health or intellectual, emotional or social development. He was therefore satisfied that The Family provided a safe environment for children raised within the group.
The court consequently awarded the mother, who continues to be a member of The Family, care and control of her infant child.
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