A child custody hearing in Washington State may be of interest to divorced or separated couples in Ohio. A father, whose wife has been missing since 2009, has temporarily lost custody of his two young sons. He is "a person of interest," along with several others, in the case of his missing wife. His father, with whom he and the boys had been living since 2010, was arrested in September for child pornography and related charges. These and similar factors can have a critical bearing on child custody determinations.

Temporary custody was granted to the boys' maternal grandparents over a month ago. They are said to be pleased to have the boys, ages six and four. A custody hearing is rescheduled for January. A recent hearing was postponed by a legal agreement. The grandparents have requested the appointment of an attorney to act as an impartial guardian (guardian ad litem), representing the interests of the boys in court. The father has been granted three hours visitation a week with the boys.

Needless to say, this is an emotionally charged situation, and there are many facts to be sorted out. The father claims he knows nothing of his wife's disappearance and nothing of his father's alleged crimes or suspicious behavior. Much will depend on the court's determination as to what is truly in the best interests of the boys. The court is not apt to return them to a home that is deemed to be an undesirable environment for them. Ohio parents following this case will note how important it is for custodial parents to demonstrate behavior beyond suspicion.

One can sympathize with the father who wants to raise his sons. It is also understandable for the grandparents to care greatly about the welfare of their daughter's children. Most important of all, of course, is what's best for the two young sons. One thing is certain: the tragedy which has enveloped this family will not dissipate quickly.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune News, "Custody hearing for Powell boys postponed," Melinda Rogers, Nov. 14, 2011