HAM v. CAVETTE was a 1962 Texas appellate court
decision. Claudie A. Ham and Karlita Cavette Ham were
married in June 1951, and divorced in July 1957.  Custody
of their two children, Kathy, who was born November in
1953, and Claudie Allin, Jr., who was born in 1954, was
awarded to Karlita Ham.  Karlita Ham died in March 1958. In
April 1958, Claudie A. Ham, who had remarried, petitioned
the court for custody of his two children. The hearing was
held in June 1958.
Ham admitted at the trial that prior to being divorced by
Karlita, he lived a wild and dissolute life, associating with
gamblers and prostitutes, entertaining in night clubs and
beer joints in many places, and working only periodically
without any steady employment for any length of time,
except for several years as an entertainer at the Imperial
Club in Galveston.  Appellant admitted that he had been
arrested on certain charges involving morals but had not
been prosecuted or convicted.  He admitted other
derelictions and improper conduct.

However, Ham asserted that a week before the trial he had
been converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses.  ham claimed
that the Jehovah's Witnesses would not permit him to
return to the entertainment field.  Ham stated that although
he had previously believed what the WatchTower Society
taught, it was only a week before the trial that he had been
baptized, and had changed his manner of life.  He no longer
gambled, smoked or drank.

In December 1958, the court awarded temporary custody of
Ham's two children to Karlita's mother and step-father,
Ernest E. Cavette and Elizabeth Cavette, who had had
custody of the children since Karlita died, and who had
cared for the children for much of the time prior to Karlita's
In December 1959, Claudie Ham again petitioned for
custody, but in August 1961, judgment was entered giving
custody of the children to the Cavettes.  Claudie Ham

The December 1958 order permitted Ham to visit the
children each Sunday afternoon. There was testimony to
the effect that when the children returned from such visits
with their father, they were highly nervous and upset, had
nightmares and frequently vomited.  The testimony also
indicates that the children did not want to go with their
father and perferred staying home with the Cavettes.  
Although both Cavettes were employed, they had a maid to
look after the children when both were at work.  The
children had been baptized in the Catholic church in
accordance with the desire of their mother expressed
shortly before her death, and at the time of the trial Kathy
was in the first grade and Claudie in kindergarten at Sacred
Heart School. The Cavettes denied that they were doing
anything to alienate the affections of the children for their
father, although Mrs. Cavette admitted that at one time she
had told the children that their mother's death was caused
from the treatment their father gave her.

Two employees from the State Department of Public
Welfare had testified in 1958 to the effect that the children
were not ready for the gruesome WatchTower Society
explanations of life apparently expounded by their father
during the times that he had them with him.  They
recommended  that the children be left with the Cavettes,
with the right of reasonable and controlled visitation by the
father in the Cavette's home, at least until the end of the
school term and then that they by permitted to spend the
summer with their father with the Cavette's having the right
to see them.

There was much testimony to the effect that the Cavettes
were suitable and proper persons to have custody of the
children; that they were financially capable of taking care of
them and rearing them in a proper manner, and that their
home was a suitable one in which to rear such children.  
There was also much testimony to the effect that the
visitations of the children with their father resulted in their
becoming highly nervous and manifesting ill effects, and
that the father possessed no financial security.

On appeal, it was Ham's contention that since the trial court
did not expressly find that he was an unfit person to have
the custody and control of said children, he was entitled to
their custody as a matter of law since he was their father
and natural guardian.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court decision that it
was in the best interest of Ham's two children that their
custody be continued andvested in the Cavettes, stating in
part:  "Since no express findings and conclusions of law
were filed by the [trial] court, we are required to review the
evidence in the light most favorable to appellees, the
prevailing parties. ...  In so doing we have concluded that
there is in the record evidence sufficient to rebut such
presumption and to support the court's findings expressed
in his decree that it is in the best interest of said minors that
their custody be continued and vested in appellees and not
in appellant."
Jehovah's Witnesses Lose in Court-Often....