A judge has ruled that a polygamous couple seeking to adopt six children does not have to answer questions about how many residents of their community practice plural marriage.

Fifth District Judge J. Philip Eves Wednesday granted the protective order to petitioners Vaughan and Sharane Fischer of Hildale, Washington County, who are seeking to adopt the children, who range in age from 5 to 19.The Fischers were granted custody of the children after the death last year of Brenda Johanson Thornton, Vaughan Fischer's polygamous wife, court records show.

Eves' ruling stemmed from questions posed by attorney Tim Anderson, who represents Thornton family members who also want to adopt the children.

Anderson asked the petitioners if 160 residents of Utah-Arizona border communities of Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz., have practiced polygamy during the past 10 years.

Eves ruled Anderson's questions went beyond what was needed in finding how the practice of polygamy affected the children.

Anderson based part of his request on an affidavit submitted by a Colorado City man who contended the practice of polygamy was widespread in both communities.

Trial in the controversial adoption case is set for Dec. 5.