Historically speaking, the U.S. judicial system was, at one time, usually siding with the mothers during child custody battles. Over the years, as various gender stereotypes have been rejected in favor of a more equitable mode of parenting, family law courts also began to give more recognition to fathers’ rights in matters of child custody.
The unfolding of a recent case, however, has raised certain doubts about how far the courts have come in their effort to protect a father’s rights in a custody dispute. A serviceman on active duty aboard a U.S. Navy submarine somewhere in the Pacific Ocean is the father of a 6-year-old girl who is the subject of a child custody case that has attracted national attention. His former wife originally lost custody of her daughter in 2010. Allegations of neglect may have played a part in the court’s decision. She is, however, seeking to regain custody of her daughter.
The judge presiding over the case asked the father to appear before the court for the hearing, which he was unable to do because of his extenuating circumstances. According to reports, the judge wanted to have his current wife deliver his daughter to her biological mother in the event he could not show up in court.
The events of the case attracted the anger of politicians as well as criticism from legal professionals. A state senator in which the case unfolded stated that the actions of the judge in this matter were an affront to the men and women of the armed services who risk their lives in service of the country. The father’s attorney also mentioned that the judge did not grant relief, ignoring Federal law, which suspends court cases involving servicemen on active duty for at least 90 days.
According to the father’s current wife, there are more servicemen and women who are faced with similar custody disputes. First of all, the decision of the court will have to be in the best interest of the child. Similar situations might call for the legal skills of an experienced legal professional.
Source: The Washington Times, “Navy sailor far away from custody case in Michigan,” June 21, 2014