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Friday, March 3, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Divorced' Twins Long To Reunite -- Child-Custody Ruling: One Girl To Mother, One To Father

AP

WAREHAM, Mass. - Tara Raymond can't bear being separated at home from her identical twin sister, Sheena.

In school, they share a classroom and often eat lunch together. But they go home to separate parents every day - Sheena to their mother, Tara to their father.

Probate Judge James R. Lawton separated the lively 10-year-olds on Feb. 14 in a temporary custody arrangement. He plans to re-examine the custody ruling at the end of the school year in June, although he said it could happen sooner.

His decision has baffled child-welfare advocates.

"I think the judge is clearly not acting in the best interest of these children," said Jetta Bernier, executive director of the Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth, a private, nonprofit organization.

She said she hopes the parents will feel pressured to come to an agreement that keeps the girls together.

"I'd like to see it happen today or tomorrow," Tara said earlier this week.

The parents, Dana Raymond and Jeanne Ardizoni, divorced about a year ago. They had been taking two-week turns with the children before the mother filed to change the arrangements.

Raymond, an unemployed cable television and telephone installer who at one time had custody of both girls, wants them back. He may seek a motion for reconsideration soon.

He sympathizes with the twins about being split up, recalling how they often played tricks on teachers and other adults by switching identities - before Tara got braces.

"They used to have a lot of fun with that," he said.

Raymond was given custody of the children at a time when, both sides acknowledge, Ardizoni was suffering some undisclosed troubles.

Ardizoni refused to allow Sheena to be interviewed. She said when the issue is reconsidered, she will fight for custody of both girls.

"My biggest concern is my girls," said Ardizoni, who lives with her boyfriend about six miles from her ex-husband.

Raymond says Sheena told the judge she wanted to try spending some more time with her mother but adds that neither girl realized it could mean breaking up.

"They have a bond that shouldn't be broken," he said. "They are lost without each other."

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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