Findings on petition to modify child custody

December 2, 1998
Scanned Pages of Court Document



Plaintiff, )  
vs. )  
BENJAMIN L. PIERCE, III, ) Case Number DR-96-650.01
Defendant. )


The above styled matter having come before the Court on Defendant's PETITION TO MODIFY CHILD CUSTODY and Plaintif3's COUNTER-PETITION TO MODIFY COD SUPPORT on the 5th day of January, 1998, and continued to the 29th day of October, 1998. Upon consideration of the evidence and testimony presented, the Court makes the following findings:

  1. Several months preceding the parties signing their Divorce Agreement, the parties engaged in numerous extensive conversations regarding the Plaintiff's involvement in a religious group known as the House of Yahweh.
  2. Defendant repeatedly verbalized his concerns with Plaintiff's involvement in the House of Yahweh and further verbalized deep concern about the parties' minor child's involvement in the group and the effects Plaintiff s involvement in the group would have on the said child. It should have been very apparent to Plaintiff that Defendant had grave concerns with this situation.
  3. In the parties Divorce Agreement, the parties agreed not to expose their child to extremist religious groups such as the "House of Yahweh".
  4. Defendant would not have signed the subject Divorce Agreement, which provided for Plaintiff to have primary placement of the parties' minor child, but for his reliance upon Plaintiff's assurance to him that she was no longer involved in the House of Yahweh.
  5. Approximately one (1) month following the date of the execution of the Divorce Agreement, Plaintiff was baptized into the House of Yahweh.
  6. While it is questionable to what degree the parties' child was exposed to the House of Yahweh, and what effects any exposure has had, the Court finds it impossible to believe that any parent can hold religious beliefs, and have any meaningful practice of those beliefs, without some resulting exposure to a child in his or her home. It would seem to be impossible for the subject child to not be exposed to the House of Yahweh as she grows older and begins to ask natural questions regarding her parents religious beliefs.
  7. Whether or not the testimony of Rick Ross is accepted as accurate and factual, any reasonable person would be fearful of involvement in any religious group teaching and warning of an imminent doomsday, complete with preparation for this doomsday by collecting and storing food at the "headquarters" of the group, even if the said "headquarters" is not referred to by members as a "compound". It would also be logical to store weapons for the protection of the supplies and members of the House of Yahweh in the end times, even though the elder of the House of Yahweh denied the same.
  8. Even a cursory evaluation of the House of Yahweh reveals consistency with the pattern of a dangerous cult, particularly in light of the claim of their own leader that he is one of the two witnesses mentioned in the book of Revelations. The Court also finds it disturbing that Plaintiff's "expert" witness along with several other members of the House of Yahweh, have changed their name to Yisrael Hawkins, which is the name of the "overseer" of the group.
  9. By Plaintiff's own testimony, she no longer attends the meetings of the House of Yahweh, not because of a change in her belief or faith in the House of Yahweh, but because of her fear of losing the Court case.
  10. Plaintiff agreed not to expose the parties' child to the House of Yahweh, but still holds the beliefs of the House of Yahweh, which renders not exposing the child to the beliefs of the House of Yahweh an impossibility while having custody and primary placement of the minor child.

Therefore, It is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED as follows:

  1. Defendant's Petition to Modify Custody is hereby GRANTED.
  2. The parties shall continue to share joint custody of their child, Emily Pierce. Primary placement of the said child shall be with Defendant.
  3. Plaintiff is awarded periods of secondary placement as were previously awarded to Defendant.
  4. Plaintiff is ordered to not allow the minor child, Emily Pierce, to be exposed to the teachings, literature, or any other aspect of the House of Yahweh.
  5. Plaintiff is ordered to not allow the minor child to be around any of her family members who are members of the House of Yahweh.
  6. If it is proven to the Court that Plaintiff has allowed the minor child to be exposed to the House of Yahweh, or it's teachings, or allows her child to have contact with her relatives who are members of the House of Yahweh, Plaintiff's secondary placement shall be terminated.
  7. Beginning December 1, 1998, Plaintiff shall pay to Defendant the sum of One Hundred Ninety Nine Dollars ($ 199.00) per month for the support and maintenance of the parties' minor child. The said payments shall be made through the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court, Calhoun County, Alabama.
  8. That the award of child support made herein was determined by application of the Child Support Guidelines established by Rule 32, A.R.J.A. A copy of the guideline form has been filed herein and is made a part of the record in this cause.
  9. Reference is hereby made in this Decree to a separate Order entitled, Order of Continuing Income Withholding for Support, the entry of which is required of this Court by the provisions of 30-3-61, Code of Alabama, 1975, and which is specifically incorporated herein as a part of this Court's Order in this cause.
  10. Defendant shall be permitted to claim the parties' minor child as a dependent, for the purposes of income tax exemption each year.
  11. A copy of this Order shall be forwarded to the attorneys of record and/or parties Pro Se.

DONE AND ORDERED this the 2 day December, 1998.


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