Shillander v. Shillander

From XFamily - Children of God

In November 1987, Vivian Shillander filed a petition for divorce from her husband Richard Harold Shillander and custody of her five children. Four of her children were then living in Family Homes in Thailand with their father and his second "wife."[1] On November 16, 1987, Circuit Court Judge Gene Paul Kean signed temporary orders granting Mrs. Shillander full custody of all her children. Mr. Shillander failed to comply with these orders.[2] Mrs. Shillander hired a private investigator, Michael Intravia of Allied Intelligence, who helped her locate her children and return them to the United States.[3] In November 1988, Mr. Shillander returned to the United States and began trying to legally regain custody of his children. Although he was initially unsuccessful, the Court eventually granted him supervised visitation. Mr. Shillander was never awarded full custody of any of the children. However, Mrs. Shillander eventually agreed to allow some of the older children to live with him and this agreement between the parties was approved by the Court.

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Case information

State of South Dakota
County of Minnehaha
Cicruit Court
Second Judicial Circuit
Judge Gean Paul Kean
Case number: DIV. 87-721
Case title: Vivian Lynn Shillander v. Richard Harold Shillander


  • Steven G. Haugaard (Plaintiff)
  • Richard L. Johnson (Plaintiff)
  • Sidney B. Strange (Defendant)
  • David Alan Palmer (Defendant)
  • Drake Titze (representing children)
  • Joseph Reed (representing children)
  • A. Thomas Pokela (State of South Dakota, Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement)
  • Barbara Everist (representing minor FJS)
  • Thomas Nicholson (representing relatives David and Susan Harris)


Court records

Editors note: The archived documents listed below include the entire public portion of the case file as provided by the South Dakota Second Judicial Circuit clerk. It does not include any documents that have been sealed or are otherwise not publicly available. Some confidential information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers, has been redacted by the court in accordance with South Dakota statutes and court rules. An editor has also reviewed the documents for unredacted Social Security numbers and made redactions as appropriate.

Download entire case file: PDF IconDIV. 87-721 (266 pages, 43.3M) — 1987-11-16 – 1992-12-04  


  1. Because Mr. Shillander was not legally divorced until September 1989, his "marriage" in Thailand was not legal.
  2. However, it should be noted that, although he was aware of the November 1987 orders shortly after they were issued and received copies of them in January 1988 in Thailand, court records indicate he was not officially served with them until November 1988
  3. Mr. Intravia later published a book with a detailed account of his investigation and mission to find and recover the missing children: Desperate Measures: The Gripping Drama of a Private Investigator's Dangerous Mission to Free a Mother's Young Children from a Bizarre Religious Cult – by Michael Intravia — ISBN 0849990270