Serviceman almost loses custody of his child while deployed

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Military Divorce on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

There are many additional factors that make military divorce more complex than civilian divorce, such as the Service Members Civil Relief Act and survivor benefit plans. More than just the extra rules and plans, however, there is the possibility that the military serviceman or servicewoman might be deployed and unable to attend court hearings. This more than anything makes military divorce a special case that must be dealt with by experienced professionals who can work with patience and diligence. The stakes in these cases can be extremely high.

One example recently occurred when an Information Systems Technician Second Class not only faced potential jail time, but also nearly lost custody of his child. The 6-year-old has been in her father’s custody ever since his 2009 divorce, in which he alleged that his ex-wife and her boyfriend abused and neglected the little girl. The man’s ex-wife sought to have the custody order changed, but the serviceman failed to appear in court. He was ordered to appear in court two weeks later, but there was only one problem: he was deployed on a submarine and couldn’t be reached.

After failing to appear a second time, the Circuit Judge felt obligated to put out an arrest warrant on the deployed serviceman and reconsider the custody arrangement. Fortunately for the petty officer, the Service Members Civil Relief Act allows him to suspend the proceedings temporarily. The hearing has been rescheduled for October, at which point the serviceman should be able to attend a fair court hearing for custody of his child.

It is because of scenarios such as this that the importance of legal assistance cannot be overstated in a military divorce case. There are variables present that most divorce cases simply don’t have to worry about. Missouri residents who are serving or have served in the armed forces can face such problems. In order to receive fair treatment and take full advantage of your rights as a service member, it is highly advisable that you seek experienced legal counsel.

Source: Army Times, “Custody case highlights a dilemma of deployment,” Lance M. Bacon, July 5, 2014

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