Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 15, 2008

Host: Ted Simons

Healthcare Group

  • Funding for a �Healthcare Group of Arizona," a state-run health insurance plan for small businesses, is at the center of a debate at the state legislature. State representatives Kirk Adams and Steve Farley discuss the pros and cons of freezing enrollment in the program.
  • David Lujan - State Representative
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
A bill working through the state legislature would bar the superior court from granting child custody or unsupervised parental visitation to parents who participate in child bigamy. Here now is a sponsor of that bill, David Lujan. Why is your bill necessary?

David Lujan:
The bill would put a presumption in state law. Other job, I'm part of a group called defenders of children. As you heard in the previous interview, it is incredibly difficult for the women and children to get the confidence to leave these communities. They need all of the tools in their favor in order to be able to leave. I worked on a handful of cases where women have left polygamous communities and filed for custody in courts, only to see the courts turn around and give custody to the polygamous fathers.

Ted Simons:
How often does this happen? It seems to me that a court would have to go pretty far to say the child is in better hands with a child bigamist?

David Lujan:
Unfortunately, it's happened and it's happening still. I've got one case where the woman has spent over $40,000 in legal fees trying to keep custody of her kids. The father is engaged in the practice of child bigamy.

Ted Simons:
I know you have an exception in the bill, as well, no significant risk to the child. Why is that included?

David Lujan:
For those rare circumstances, I don't even know what they would be, where that would be necessary. But to allow some judicial discretion in place that, if the judge finds that there's circumstances that you should award custody to the parent that's engaged in child bigamy, you can do that.

Ted Simons:
It would seem to me if the woman should not have custody and the other option is a child bigamist, seemed like CPS is around the corner somewhere.

David Lujan:
I would think you're looking at foster care in those situations. The whole purpose of this is to give the women and children who are seeking to leave extra assurance in state law that the courts are going to back them up when they finally get the courage to leaves these polygamist communities.

Ted Simons:
I know you referred to this earlier but I want to ask again, why you, why this issue?

David Lujan:
I never thought when I got elected to the legislature that I would be working on a bigamy law. I saw the need for this law because, as I said, we've been working on cases where women finally get the courage to leave these polygamist communities, only to have the courts give custody to the fathers.

Ted Simons:
It's what's happening in El Dorado, Texas, surprising to you at all?

David Lujan:
It doesn't surprise me. The women and children in that compound came from Arizona, and so unfortunately it's gotten to this point.

Ted Simons:
Is there much opposition to your bill right now?

David Lujan:
The bill has received bipartisan unanimous support in two committees, it's passed out of two committees. Unfortunately, it's been held in one committee where the chairman I guess disagrees with the concept of the bill.

Ted Simons:
That's basically it. If the chairman doesn't like it, it just sits there, and everyone else seems to be happy with it.

David Lujan:
Yes, I've had a number of republicans that have helped me to get the bill moved forward. For whatever reason, the chair doesn't want to move it forward.

Ted Simons:
Is that gong to change any time soon?

David Lujan:
If I don't get it this session, I'll be back next session until we get it accounted into law.

Ted Simons:
David, thank you so much for joining us on "horizon."

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