Gay father fights limits on visits with kids

Tue, 01/20/2009 - 5:13pm
By: John Munford

Homosexual ‘friends’ at issue in divorce order; Ga. Supreme Court to decide Fayette ruling

A former Fayette man is challenging an order that he not be allowed to entertain “his homosexual partners and friends” while his three minor children visit him once weekly.

The order was entered Oct. 1, 2007, by Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards as part of the divorce case between Eric Mongerson and Sandy Ehlers. Mongerson has appealed this issue and several others to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Edwards ordered that neither of the parents could have “overnight company with a member of the opposite sex, or with any person deemed to be a paramour, unrelated by blood or marriage, in the presence of a child.”

One sentence later Edwards wrote: “Additionally, defendant is prohibited from exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.”

In his appeal, Mongerson’s attorneys write that such an order was an abuse of the court’s discretion.

“There was no evidence presented that and the court made no finding that exposing the parties’ children to any of Appellant’s homosexual friends would adversely affect the best interests of the children,” according to the appeal. “Therefore, such a prohibition on appellant’s homosexual friends is an abuse of discretion.”

But Ehlers’ attorney claims that there was such evidence as the oldest daughter testified that she had “found one of my dad’s magazines that had nude men in it doing things to each other.”

In the same brief Tyrone attorney Lance McMillian says the discovery of their father’s infidelity “has been ‘emotionally difficult’ for the children who continue to go to counseling as a result.”

Being exposed to their father’s homosexual friends could have “potentially damaging effects on the healing process” for the children should they be “reminded of the painful issue of the appellant’s infidelity, new lifestyle and keeping of pornography in the home,” according to the brief.

Ehlers’ attorney also claims that the appeal fails in part because it “ignore(s) the evidence of the cruel mistreatment of the parties’ children by the appellant and his parents.”

The divorce case, which was adjudicated via a bench trial instead of a jury trial, featured accusations by two of the couple’s oldest children about violent outbursts made by Mongerson during a vacation in which he took all four children to see his parents in Arkansas.

According to the affidavits, the oldest son and oldest daughter claimed that Mongerson grabbed the girl by her neck, slapped her in the face and punched her. On the same trip, they claimed that Mongerson took his daughter’s cell phone from her, “put it down the front of his pants and told her if she wanted it she would have to come get it.”

In the same affidavits the children said they were afraid of how their younger sister and brother would be treated by their father and they went on the trip to protect their younger siblings.

In his order, Edwards noted that during the trial it was also shown that Mongerson violated a court order that he be prohibited from leaving the children in the care of his mother and stepfather “for any time or period whatsoever.”

In the appeal Mongerson also challenges the court’s order that prohibited his parents from having any contact with his children, the alimony award to Ehlers and an order ordering him to pay his wife’s attorney fees in the case in an amount upwards of $8,000.

Mongerson also claims the court should not openly entertain requests to review and modify the visitation schedule without requiring a showing that the modification “is in the best interests of the children.”

In the order Edwards said the visitation arrangement could be revisited once the children’s counselor agrees it is feasible.

According to the final order in the case, Mongerson gets visitation with the two youngest children once a week for four hours on his day off from work in addition to two separate one-week visitation periods during summer vacation and the day before or after each child’s birthday.

Edwards ordered Mongerson to pay $1,276 a month in child support along with $800 a month in spousal support until Ehlers dies, remarries or gets a bachelor’s degree. The order also requires her to prove each year that she is still enrolled in college at least part time and making passing grades.

Mongerson is being represented by the Atlanta law firm of Hedgepeth and Heredia.

The case was not required to be appealed to the Georgia Appeals Court.

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Findu Veryfunny's picture
Submitted by Findu Veryfunny on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 11:18am.

news - among many other IMPORTANT issues - to write about besides this poor family's "dirty laundry"? I think this article was written and more importantly, approved for publish, in poor taste.
There are far too many topics we can be concerned with besides this one. Let them have their [private] day in court.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 11:28am.

Court filings for the most part are public record--as they should be. This story is being reported upon in other places. If he wanted this to remain private, they should have come to an agreement. If both parties valued their children's privacy, they would have done so.

Findu Veryfunny's picture
Submitted by Findu Veryfunny on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 11:35am.

be prepared to have it "aired", right? Still doesn't make it newsworthy. You wouldn't want it happening to you...wedgie. Smiling

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 11:46am.

But I don't exactly put myself in this sort of situation. Half of the stuff on talk shows is not newsworthy. All of the stuff on Springer shouldn't be aired. But this is what our society seems to value. There is a market for it. everyone should know that if you make this kind of stuff public, then tongues will wag and news will carry it. It is sad but true. Why put yourself into this kind of situaiton?

Submitted by momofthree on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 2:24pm.

Putting this family's struggles in the paper was absolutely unnecessary and done in poor taste. I feel for these children who now have to go about their lives with this info plastered on the front page.

Shoebox's picture
Submitted by Shoebox on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 9:16am.

Some people shouldn't be parents!

Submitted by sielo1 on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:13pm.

Like preachers for instance.

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:14pm.

One of the pervert's gay lovers.

Submitted by schatsie on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 9:16pm.

In a previous article "Teen suicides: Parents, monitor your kids", Mr. John Munford wrote:

"Peachtree City is reeling from two teen suicides in the past two weeks. The big question is: what are we going to do about it?
The first course of action is to stop all the rumor-mongering. No good comes of it and sometimes, folks, it’s just none of your business. Mind your own lives, and especially, mind your own kids."

Take your own advice Mr. Munford! Shame on you! Just because you are part of the media, doesn't mean you get to air everyone's laundry! Pressure from school peers from articles like this is what makes teens to think they have no options. You should be ashamed!

We're praying for you and your family Ms. Elhers!

Submitted by Curleybrown on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 5:21pm.

I have been a friend of Mr. Mongersons for the past five years and know that he is a good father, very compasionate man and a very caring individual. It disturbes me that his familys very private and personal business has been published for all to see with no regard for how it will effect him, his ex-wife or children. Although this information is public record it is in very poor tast what you have written and elaborated on. Do you know the entire circunstance of the situation? I didn't think so. As a reporter, you should have used a bit more discretion before writing this article.

Submitted by skyspy on Tue, 01/20/2009 - 8:18pm.

Parading a buffet line of "specially different boys" to spend the night in front of your kids can't be good for the kids.

Judge Edwards totally rocks. Thanks for looking out for the kids.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Tue, 01/20/2009 - 6:06pm.

this shouldn't be in the paper as it is further embarrassment to these young kids.

It sounds like the father cares more about 'his rights' than he does his children. If his visitation with the younger 2 is only 4 hours, he should treat those 4 hours as 'quality time', interjecting someone confusing, to a small child during that time, is selfish. He has 6 days and 20 hours to do what he wants, with whom he wants. 4 hours of quality time is not a lot to ask if you love your kids more than you want to prove a point.

Submitted by fayetteparent on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 4:16pm.

Suggarfoot, you make a very good point.

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