Utah parents generally want what is in the best interest of their children, especially when considering divorce. For those in the service, a military divorce can be further complicated by things beyond a service member’s control. One such case involves a military father who is currently deployed but is also facing a custody dispute.

A federal law allows for court cases pending against active-duty military members to be granted an additional window so that they may make efforts to appear in court. However, in a recent case, a deployed member of the military is in a custody dispute involving his young daughter and his former wife. Initially, the judge threatened the sailor with jail time in addition to losing custody of his daughter because he failed to appear in court. The judge’s orders were reversed once it was made clear that the reason that he could not appear was because of military service.

As a result of this military member’s legal battles and the battles of countless others, lawmakers are seeking to strengthen laws aimed at protecting the parental rights of service members. Among the reported protections being considered for those in the military are those intended to cease deployments, both current and future, from being used as factors for determining child custody. The law is currently waiting for approval with the Senate.

For Utah service members contemplating filing for a military divorce, it is important to understand the necessary steps that can be taken under the current law to protect their parental rights. Unfortunately, despite following the law, military members sometimes find themselves in stressful situations when trying to defend those rights. Fortunately, it appears that there are lawmakers making strides to create legal ways for all parents to have the ability to protect their rights regarding their children.

Source: Marine Corps Times, “Custody case highlights a dilemma of deployment”, Lance M. Bacon, July 5, 2014

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