Friday, October 14, 2005

Interstate child custody dispute: Tug of war between Wyoming and Nebraska courts continues in custody dispute for son of deaf parents; Aunt&Uncle in Hastings suing to keep custody; Wyoming court rules Hastings County could not extend temporary guardianship order there beyond six months and orders child may stay with Wyoming parents Lincoln Journal Star Friday, October 14, 2005 Matthew Neuman had just finished lunch after a morning at kindergarten when his mom got the good news. A Wyoming court had decided Matthew, 6, will stay in Cheyenne with his parents rather than go to live with his aunt and uncle in Nebraska. “WE WON OUR CASE” said an e-mail from Matthew’s parents, Eric and Vicki Neuman, about the ruling. The Neumans have been battling to regain custody of Matthew since the Nebraska couple were awarded temporary guardianship of the boy in July 2003. It’s unclear how the Wyoming decision will affect the court cases in Nebraska. The couple, Ron and Dena Hohlen of Hastings, are Matthew’s maternal aunt and uncle. They contend the Neumans, who are deaf, did not provide a safe home for Matthew, who can hear. The Nebraska court battle dragged on for two years and Matthew lived with his aunt and uncle in Nebraska. His parents were allowed supervised weekend visits in Nebraska. But in July, the Neumans took Matthew back to their home in Wyoming, a violation of the Nebraska court order. In late July, a Wyoming court approved a different guardianship arrangement, allowing Matthew to live with his parents in Wyoming with supervision by another Wyoming couple. The Hohlens fought that arrangement in Wyoming courts. Last week the Wyoming District Court ruled the Nebraska guardianship is not valid because Nebraska state law allows a temporary guardianship for only six months. Section 30-2611 RRS Neb. The court dismissed the Hohlens’ case. “After careful review of all filings in the case the court notes that Nebraska statute places a six-month limit on temporary guardianship. It is clear from this record that the six-month guardianship … has expired,” said the judge in the order. The Hohlens’ attorney in Wyoming said she did not know whether the district court decision would be appealed to the state Supreme Court. The Neumans’ Nebraska attorney, Tom Lieske, had raised Nebraska’s six-month limit on temporary guardianship with the Nebraska court in seeking to dismiss the temporary guardianship a year ago. But Adams County Judge Robert Ide continued the temporary guardianship. Lieske said he is studying the Wyoming decision but has not determined how he might use it in the Nebraska case. Hearings on the Nebraska guardianship issue have been set for Oct. 26, 27 and 28. The Neumans have also been charged with violation of custody, a criminal misdemeanor charge for taking Matthew out of Nebraska without court permission. 28-316 RRS Neb. A hearing on that criminal charge is scheduled for Oct. 26. Steven and Leslie Shelton, a Cheyenne couple, are Matthew’s legal guardians in Wyoming, but the court has agreed the boy can live with his parents, said Dameione Cameron, a Wyoming attorney representing the couple. The Wyoming court does oversee the guardianship, requiring a report from the guardians every six months, Cameron said. The Wyoming court decision shows the temporary guardianship in Nebraska is not valid, said Leslie Shelton. “We are hoping that the Wyoming decision will be used in the Nebraska cases. We hope it will make them go away. That is our dream,” she said.

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