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Melissa A. Featherston

Military duties and child custody battles

Military personnel are often deployed for months or years at a time, which can make child custody battles complicated. Even when they are not deployed, training exercises can last for days or weeks and require travel. Military men and women have certain rights granted to them during a divorce and/or child custody battle, which should protect their interests in case of deployment or travel assignments.

Missouri readers may be interested in a case from another state involving a sailor embroiled in a child custody battle with his ex-wife. A judge threatened to imprison the sailor after he failed to show up for a custody hearing. However, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is intended to grant extra time in such situations for those who may be deployed and unable to attend hearings.

Although the attorney for the sailor requested an extension because of this act, the judge still gave temporary custody to the mother. The father was responsible for providing transportation to the mother for this transfer, but he was unable to do so because he is deployed. Supporters of the sailor claim that the judge is disregarding the law concerning deployed parents' rights.

Child custody fights can be difficult for all parties involved. These battles may be particularly complicated for servicemen and women who are unable to be present during proceedings. Fortunately, there are items in place protecting their rights during deployment. As this particular case illustrates, Missouri military men and women can greatly benefit from understanding their rights while they are fulfilling their job duties. When facing a divorce or custody proceeding, an evaluation of the situation may be necessary to determine the best course of action.

Source: navytimes.com, "Deployed submariner loses a round in custody battle", Lance M. Bacon, Aug. 6, 2014

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