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Deployed father likely to lose custody of daughter

While their dedication and willingness to sacrifice their own lives to protect their country makes the men and women who serve in the U.S. military seem superhuman, they face many of the same challenges as civilians. Often forced to be away from family for months or even years at a time, members of the U.S. military face many difficulties related to how to sustain and maintain close relationships with those left behind.

In some cases, the stress and time apart from a spouse or partner proves to be too much and a marriage or relationship ends. In cases where children are involved, military dads and moms, particularly those who are on active duty and deployed, are often forced to temporarily give up custody of a child. In cases where this occurs, upon a parent’s return, regaining child custody can prove to be difficult.

A judge has ordered a Navy submariner and father to appear in court next Monday for a child custody hearing. The father of a 6-year-old daughter of whom he has full custody will not, however, be able to attend the hearing as he is currently stationed in the Pacific Ocean. Because of his deployment, the judge overseeing the matter cautioned she has no choice but to grant the man's ex-wife, who is the child's biological mother, full child custody.

Members of the U.S. military are supposed to be protected from this type of legal action under the Service members Civil Relief Act which grants deployed service men and women an automatic 90-day stay in corresponding legal matters. While the man's commanders posed this argument, the judge in the case "denied that protection" to the dedicated father.

Soon the fate of the 6-year-old girl, who was taken away from her biological mom four years ago due to neglect, will be decided. While she currently lives with her father's second wife whom she refers to as mom, she will likely soon be forced to return to the care of her biological mother.

This case is an example of the types of challenges military dads and moms must endure in child custody matters. Individuals that serve in the U.S. military who are facing problems related maintaining or regaining child custody would be wise to contact an attorney who handles military divorce matters.

Source:, "Local sailor ordered to be in court, despite being out to sea," Keith Eldrige, June 17, 2014New York Daily News, "Sailor's inability to appear in court while serving on submarine threatens custody of daughter," Nina Golgowski, June 19, 2014 

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