“Free Range” Parents Fight for Custody of 10 Children

Joe Naugler and wife Nicole attended a child custody hearing in Breckenridge County, Kentucky on May 11 to fight for custody of their 10 children. Joe and Nicole’s children were taken by Child Protective Services the week before after a confrontation between Nicole and a Breckinridge County sheriff’s deputy led to her arrest.

The Breckinridge County Sheriff deputy visited the family’s property after an “anonymous complaint” claimed the children were being neglected. When the officer tried to speak with one of the couple’s sons as part of a welfare check for Child Protective Services, Nicole Naugler allegedly became confrontational, according to a Wave3 News article.

A supporter of the Naugler’s family posted an audio recording online of the alleged encounter between Nicole and the deputy. According to the recording, Nicole said, “You cannot kidnap my son! You can shoot me dead, shoot me dead but you won’t kidnap my son!”

The officer later arrested Nicole and charged her with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Investigators claimed the family lived in squalor on an “off-grid” 26-acre homestead. Authorities worried about the children living in makeshift tents in sometimes freezing temperatures without running water, electricity, and septic.

Joe and Nicole blog about their “free range” approach to parenting whereby their children are given absolute independence from infancy.  The children do not attend formal schools, and self-identify as “free range.”

According to a family services report posted on Facebook by Nicole, there were, “Numerous piles of garbage, broken glass and nails were also scattered about the property,” and a pond with, “no barrier around it to prevent the children from entering or falling in.”

So far, the family has not been successful in winning back full custody of their 10 children, however the family’s blog reports they have been granted visitation. The family’s next child custody hearing is scheduled for June 10, 2015.

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