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Sailor escapes losing child custody while at sea

A submariner, who is currently deployed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, was recently ordered to appear in court for a child custody hearing relating to his daughter. The sailor was given permanent custody of the 6-year-old girl in 2010, after an incident that led to the removal of the girl from his ex-wife's home by child protective services. However, if the sailor does not appear in court for the hearing, he may risk losing custody of his girl to the ex-wife.

The man's lawyers, who are representing him in the child custody matter, say that the sailor is protected through a special act meant to protect service members called the Service Members Civil Relief Act. The law says that in child custody cases state courts must give a stay of proceedings of at least 90 days to service members who are currently working in service of their country.

For a short time, it appeared that the judge in this case was going to hold the sailor in contempt of court and issue a warrant for his arrest. However, recent news indicates that the judge has since granted a delay in the custody hearing so that the man can attend the hearing after his deployment tour has completed.

Child custody cases can be heated and emotional. When a custody matter and resulting disagreements between parents are so strong that it requires court litigation to resolve, the end results can be difficult to predict. For this reason, child custody litigants are generally encouraged to meet with their ex-spouses through an out-of-court mediation process to see if a settlement can be reached. If it cannot, then other legal strategies can be employed in court to ensure that all parties are treated fairly, while at all times keeping the best interest of the child or children at heart.

Source: CBS Seattle, "Judge Orders Deployed US Sailor To Attend Custody Hearing Or Lose Daughter, Face Arrest" No author given, Jun. 20, 2014

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