Courtesy Tealan McOmber

Unusual ruling has mother, grandmothers fighting for custody of 2-year-old

By Tania Mashburn and Mike Headrick, Associated Press | Posted - Feb 24th, 2014 @ 10:38pm

4 photos

SALT LAKE CITY — Tealan McOmber is a young mother, and 2-year-old Chloe is the center of her world.

McOmber was just 19 years old when she had Chloe. She said she struggled but raised Chloe to the best of her ability, until about a year and a half ago.

That's when McOmber said Chloe was taken away by her own mother and grandmother, who showed up at her Orem apartment alleging McOmber was not fit to be a parent.

“They ripped Chloe out of my arms,” McOmber said. “They took her bed. They took her clothes. They took everything."

Their reasoning? McOmber said the women thought she was abusing and neglecting Chloe, and that she was living in an unsafe environment.

McOmber denies those allegations, and the evidence seems to support her. A police report shows Orem police officers were called out to McOmber's home in August 2012 and "the baby seemed fine."

That same month, McOmber's family asked the Utah Division of Child and Family Services to do a welfare check. A case worker reported there was lack of evidence of physical neglect.

Despite the reports, a judge granted full custody of Chloe to her great-grandmother. According to McOmber's attorney, it never should have happened.

"They ripped Chloe out of my arms. They took her bed. They took her clothes. They took everything."

“The rules simply weren’t followed,” attorney Zach Weyher said.

Weyher says McOmber's legal rights were violated. He said Judge Scott Johansen of Emery County made a ruling based only on allegations, without giving McOmber enough time to respond to the court in her own defense. She never had a hearing to tell her side of the story, he said.

The case, Weyher said, is unusual to say the least.

“This wasn't a husband, this wasn't a wife that was getting full custody for some reason; but this is the great-grandmother of the child,” Weyher said.

McOmber has been fighting to get her daughter back for the past year and a half and has now taken her case to the Utah Supreme Court.

In the meantime, McOmber married and has a full-time job. She gets supervised visits with Chloe once a week.

“I've never been so scared, so alone, so sad,” McOmber said. “I feel guilty getting married, living a life that she's not a part of.”

In her heart, though, she believes she will get Chloe back.

KSL Investigators made multiple attempts to speak to McOmber's grandmother and her attorneys, but nobody was willing to explain their side of the story.

KSL also attempted to talk to Judge Johansen but was told he cannot speak on a pending case.


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