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Military divorce and deployment: the rights of deployed parents

Military divorce can be more complicated than an average divorce because of factors such as deployment. There are laws that pertain specifically to military divorce for the purpose of protecting the rights of deployed parents during a divorce. A recent custody case involving a sailor and his ex-wife illustrates the importance of these laws and the rights of military personnel.

Colorado readers may have heard of a case involving a sailor who was threatened with jail time after he did not appear at a custody hearing for his daughter. Apparently he was deployed at the time and was unable to be present. Additionally, the judge ordered that temporary custody be granted to the mother, and that the father be responsible for transporting the daughter to Detroit.

The Service members Civil Relief Act is designed to protect deployed parents from such circumstances while they are deployed. Legal representation for the sailor and the stepmother of the child both insist that the judge's orders were in violation of this act. A lawyer for the sailor has asked for a reversal of the decision regarding sending the girl to her mother. Previously, physical and legal custody had been granted to the father.

Armed service members should know their rights if they are going through a divorce. Military divorce has the potential to be complex, but an evaluation of the circumstances could reveal the best manner by which to protect the legal rights of the military parent. Colorado military parents should remember that serving their country does not mean that they have to face a complicated divorce alone.

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

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