Inside Michelle And Jim Bob Duggar's Custody Battle Over Adopted Nephew Tyler

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's religious beliefs dictate that parents should welcome as many children as God gives them. The result: a huge household that became the inspiration for the "19 Kids & Counting" reality series. Their room-for-one-more philosophy continued even after it became clear the good Lord had called a halt to any more babies for the couple: In 2016, the Duggars took in Tyler Hutchins, Michelle's great-nephew. 

As In Touch Weekly reported at the time, Tyler is the grandson of Michelle's sister Carolyn Hutchins. His mother, Rachel, was a teen mom whose troubled life left her broke, homeless, and in trouble with the law. In 2015, Rachel surrendered custody of Tyler to her parents, but just months later, Carolyn suffered a stroke that affected her own ability to care for a child. It was then that the Duggars petitioned for emergency temporary custody of Tyler, which became a permanent guardianship in November 2016. 

The Duggar parents quietly added Tyler to their family website once he became the 20th Duggar child. Without explaining the particulars of his custody arrangement, they wrote an enthusiastic bio: "Tyler is our great-nephew and we are so happy to have him as part of our family! He is energetic, full of life, and loves being outdoors." He was especially fond of bonding with the Duggar brothers, as he helped with their home renovation and car repair projects. Tyler was also skilled at sweet-talking the folks into stopping for a treat during shopping runs. 

Tyler made cameo appearances on reality TV

By the time Tyler Hutchins joined the Duggar family, three of his cousins had already married and moved out of the house: Josh, Jill, and Jessa. The six years that followed saw John-David, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, and Justin follow suit. The family's original TV series had been canceled and replaced by a spinoff, "Counting On," which focused primarily on the married siblings and their venture into family life. Still, the younger Duggars often made appearances on the series, including Tyler. He can be seen in several Season 9 episodes, including "Sleepless in Laredo," in which he and his younger cousins got some home tutoring from Jessa's husband, Ben Seewald, and "Love and Loss," which featured Tyler and cousins teaming up to create a groom's cake for John's wedding.

But like its predecessor, "Counting On" was abruptly yanked by TLC once Josh Duggar's latest scandal went public. It didn't help that some of their other children were making news around the same time. John-David, a pilot, was involved in a plane crash in 2021; just weeks later, his twin sister, Jana, was charged with child endangerment for losing track of a child she was babysitting. 

Fans lost track of Tyler, too. The Duggars opted to keep a low profile on social media, and haven't shared photos of their great-nephew since fall 2021, when they took the six youngest children on a road trip to Yellowstone National Park and other western landmarks.

Tyler is now back with his grandparents

In June 2023, fans of "19 Kids & Counting" got yet another shock when news broke that Tyler Hutchins was no longer a part of the Duggar household. Per The U.S. Sun, Michelle Duggar's sister Carolyn Hutchins and her husband petitioned the court to reclaim custody of the 15-year-old, with court papers stating, "The Petitioners believe that they are the fit and proper persons to provide for the care and welfare of Tyler." The petition adds that Tyler's mother Rachel is still unable to care for him. The Duggars agreed to surrender Tyler, declaring his assets as a used car and a couple hundred dollars in his bank account.

While the petition mentions nothing about the quality of care Tyler received from the Duggars, many have speculated that their very public troubles may have played a part. Most recently, daughters Jinger Duggar Vuolo and Jill Duggar Dillard released memoirs criticizing their parents' beliefs and parts of their upbringing, and an Amazon exposé painted the Duggars' faith group as being controlling and dangerous. The Duggars broke their silence to blast the "Shiny Happy People" docuseries, but critics dismissed it as a weak defense.

As of this writing, Tyler is still included in the Duggar family website — between Jennifer and Jordyn-Grace in age order — and Jim Bob and Michelle have yet to comment on the topic.