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Military member's rights violated in child custody case

A Michigan servicemember who is embroiled in an ongoing custody battle with the mother of his child has experienced a setback in his case. The man had been threatened with jail time because he was unable to return from his military deployment for a court date in Michigan. A child custody order has now been issued to transfer the girl to the man's ex-wife's home instead of allowing the girl to remain with her stepmother.

Now, the girl is on her way to her mother's residence in Michigan; she had been living with her father and his wife in Washington state. He has been ordered to fly his daughter to his ex-wife's home, but that responsibility falls on his new wife because he has been deployed until October. The girl's stepmother says she will not send the child to Michigan, instead arguing that the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act should be invoked.

The SCRA is designed to protect servicemembers from unfair legal proceedings by suspending certain judicial and administrative actions until the military member can return to the States. One provision provides a 90-day extension for cases related to child custody. Actions that affect the civil rights of military members fall under the purview of this law.

National legislators even agree that the law is being violated in the man's case. The law is intended to prevent such violations of military members' rights as they serve their country while on active duty status. Now, this servicemember is being placed at a disadvantage even though he is protecting our nation. Such abhorrent child custody practices should not be tolerated in our country's court system. Michigan military members should receive the legal rights they are due under the SCRA, and individual judges should not be able to circumvent those protections.

Source: Navy Times, "Deployed submariner loses a round in custody battle" Lance M. Bacon, Aug. 16, 2014

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