There is a federal law that recognizes that people in the military may be deployed overseas, far from home, and thus cannot show up to court when ordered. The statute is called the Service Members Relief Act. It allows military members to get a delay of proceedings in civil cases for at least 90 days, so that the soldier can make arrangements to appear once it is possible.
Child custody hearings are among the type of case where one of the parties may be able to obtain relief under the law. So when a sailor in the Navy was denied a delay in his custody dispute with his former wife, it received national attention recently.
The sailor is currently stationed on a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. A hearing was set for June 16, at which the father was supposed to appear, or have someone bring his daughter.
It was initially reported that, when neither occurred, the judge denied his wife’s motion for a delay under the service member law, reasoning that the stepmother could have arranged to bring the girl.
Now it appears that the judge has reversed herself. She now has delayed at least some of the case until Oct. 22. The judge said that she supports the military, having a father and brother who both served. She also canceled an order to have the stepmother fly the girl to her mother’s custody.
It is no surprise that child custody disputes can easily become emotionally difficult. Having the right attorney on your side can help you defend your parental rights and reach a result that is in your child’s best interests.
Source: KOMO-TV, “Judge orders break in sailor’s child custody case,” Keith Eldridge, June 24, 2014