Judge Agrees To Reunite Mattingly and Her Children

Judge Agrees To Reunite Mattingly and Her Children

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Richard Piatt reportingAfter a highly publicized year long custody battle, a judge rules all 11 children of a prominent polygamist can be reunited with their mother, under certain conditions.

Juvenile court judge Andrew Valdez ordered the family start the process of 'reunification', after a year apart from their mother, Heidi Mattingly.

All but two of the children have been in foster care recently, and have not had contact with Mattingly. Wednesday night, their mother learned that will change.

Hugs of joy for Heidi Mattingly, moments after learning her children will slowly be returned to her.

"We feel so wonderful. Yes, wonderful, love, happy..."

Nine of Mattingly's children by John Daniel Kingston have been in state custody, after charges of physical abuse and neglect over a period of years.

In his ruling, Judge Andrew Valdez made it clear, this reunification is conditional. It includes supervised visits, counseling, all under the watchful eye of DCFS caseworkers.

Wednesday night, Mattingly expressed appreciation for the judge's decision, which came against the recommendations of the Attorney General.

Heidi Mattingly/Mother: "I truly appreciate him taking the time to check into what I'm doing and not what people are accusing me of doing. Because I believe I'll do anything to get those kids home."

John Daniel Kingston will NOT be allowed to have contact with the children, at least for now, because of on-going concerns about his violent past. But he says he is also willing to undergo counseling in order to see the kids.

John Daniel Kingston/Father: "I will do whatever I need to do to be with my family, whatever that might be."

Dozens of supporters, family members and friends, rejoiced in the ruling after a long, emotional and bitter struggle.

Caseworkers still say Mattingly is an unfit mother.

But she implies her case is more about persecuting polygamy than child abuse and neglect, since most don't attract much attention.

Heidi Mattingly/Mother: "I guarantee almost everyone in the state of Utah knows I had a neglect and abuse case today. Why is that?"

The state insists this case is about the children's welfare, period. In the meantime, caseworkers will be watching, and will give a progress report to Judge Valdez in June.

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