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 packagedealx3
Joined: 2/4/2006
Msg: 4
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Custody and military servicePage 1 of 1    
There are people who feel justified in using anything to get custody of their kids and many of those are really in it purely for winning. I think everyone should see the movie Irreconcilable Differences before they have a child. At some point children realize they are pawns and probably would like to divorce both parents.

OP I too agree that he may have a point but only if he is willing to do whatever possible to help ensure that when his X is stateside she can spend as much time with her child as possible. Joint custody or something reverting to full custody if she is deployed or has orders to relocate.
 FastReb
Joined: 1/3/2009
Msg: 6
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Custody and military service
Posted: 2/7/2009 9:29:04 PM
First, to understand this subject, you have to start off with a few facts. The first fact is that up until recently, as in the last 10 years, almost all divorce cases ended with the mother being awarded custody. The courts are finally realizing that men can be just as good as, and in some individual cases, even better parents than women can be. As a result, especially in the last 10 years, the courts have begun to give men custody in increasing numbers.

Secondly, up until the last 20 years, the numbers of females in the military was very small. This has dramatically changed. The last information I saw put their numbers in the military at the 15-20% level. Of course, this means there are a greater number of military females who wind up being single parents when they divorce.

The third fact is that the "Soldiers, Sailors and Airman Civil Relief Act ( SSAA for brevity) was enacted primarily to prevent creditors from winning judgements against service members who were deployed and unable to have regular mail service, thus unable to make payments on time, if at all. The SSAA had not been updated to keep pace with both the technological advances we have seen, nor the increasing numbers of military members who wind up being custodial parents.

Now, here is where we start mixing the ingredients. Men, including military members, are increasingly gaining custody of their children in divorces. More women in the military just adds to the numbers of single custodial parents when divorces occur. When the military was almost exclusively male, the ex-spouse almost always got custody, those females in the military were small in number and almost always in jobs that rarely saw them deployed AND the Reserves/National Guard was almost exclusively used for emergencies in their states, the inadequacies of the SSAA were not even recognized.

Here is how it comes down, usually. A divorce occurs, in which the military member is granted primary custody. The military member comes down on deployment orders or is deployed, with the non-custodial parent finding out that a deployment is coming or the member has already deployed. They file to gain custody. Many times the argument is they should be granted custody, at least while the member is deployed, because they are the other biological parent. The family court, which is a state court, completely ignores the SSAA( it's almost always ignoring as opposed to not having knowledge of) and grants the non-military non-custodial parent custody, sometimes supposedly until the member returns and sometimes permanently. The family courts ignore the SSAA because there have been absolutely no cases where the judge of the family court has paid any price, whether professionally or personally, for ignoring the SSAA.

After the military member returns, you would think it would be kids play to go into court and have these decisions reversed. It is most definitely not. Most times, the federal courts don't want to get into holding a fellow judge accountable for ignoring the law and squashes the lawsuit. In many states, this issue hasn't been addressed, leaving the military member to have to go back into family court and plead to have the child(ren) returned to them. The former spouse's attorney then usually puts forward the argument that the child(ren) have now bonded to the former spouse, there are no other compelling issues why the child(ren) should be returned and to do so now would only be for the military member and not because it was in the best interest of the child(ren). Of course, the former spouse's lawyer also usually either openly suggest, or does so by intimating, that the only reason the military member wants the child back now is so that the military member won't have to continue to pay child support. Believe it or not, most of the family courts are buying the bonded to/no good reason to argument and the military member loses custody, usually forever.

The reason I know this information is that I almost found myself in this situation as a member of the Army National Guard. My marriage was going down the tubes and I had filed for divorce when word came down that my unit was about to go back to Iraq for a second combat tour. I quickly found out that (a.) if I was awarded custody and my ex was able to have it changed, my state did not have a law that would force family court to return custody after my deployment, (b.) if I was in the NG when temporary custody was awarded, the ex would probably get the kids, (c.) the family courts were ignoring SSAA and the federal courts were ignoring them doing so.

Armed with the above information, I got very lucky. My luck was in the fact that my enlistment would be up shortly after we had our temporary custody hearing and I was able to convince the judge that I would be getting out to get custody of my kids. This fact, with the others we presented, convinced the judge to award me custody of the kids. I shudder to think what would have been had I just re-enlisted, as had been my plan until the divorce came along.

I'm sorry for the length of this, but there just isn't a shorter way to explain how military members are being penalized for their service when it comes to custody of their kids.

As a side note, I wrote both my state senator and my U.S. representative about this situation. The U.S. representative wrote back to say that Congress was updating the SSAA, specifically to address this area. I am also proud to say that after pointing this problem out to my state senator, he introduced legislation to change our state law in this area. After the govenor signed it into law, the senator was even gracious enough to send me a letter showing the new change.
 freetime2bme
Joined: 1/16/2006
Msg: 7
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Custody and military service
Posted: 2/8/2009 5:58:21 AM
I dropped my retirement paperwork, when I came to the conclusion my marriage was not going to last. I was not going to go into divorce proceedings still being active. There is no way to keep or be awarded custody if there is a possibility of deployment, unless the other parent is also military. Getting custody of my kids was way more important to me then making the next rank. I have seen it happen again and again and courts do not give custody to a parent that might get shipped out if the other parent will not. I have known several men that were able to get custody simply because they were able to do what I did and retire, but the wife still had a few years till retirement. That meant for the wife's were I saw this happen to be completive for custody they would have had to ETS or give up their retirement pension when it was only 2-3 years away. Losing custody do to being in the military effects men way more then women, but I have seen men use the fact that the soon to be ex can not retire and they can to win custody more then once. I also knew one man that got out with over 18 years of service to keep the ex from getting any of his retirement pay and so he could get shared custody. The military is a hard life, why we get a pension at 20 years. Courts do recognize the sacrifice of our military members and often do change custody back to co-parenting arrangements after a deployment has ended or after a retirement, so permanent custody is not set in stone by any means.
 FastReb
Joined: 1/3/2009
Msg: 9
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Custody and military service
Posted: 2/8/2009 7:45:21 PM

Your career choice is in your hands and you can't have it both ways. If you want to do a job that means you can't care for your child, then you can't care for your child. And they absolutely should be with the parent who can care for them.

When 2 parents no longer parent together there will always be a sacrifices. If you are willing to give up caring for your child for your job, then that is up to you. It is not a "penalty". It is a choice.


Me Plus, I'm not going to knock you for your views. You are as entitled to them as anyone else. However, as another poster stated, the military is not a career that you can just quit whenever you wish to. If you are an enlisted person, there is a contract for a certain amount of years service. If you are an officer, you get commissioned with the understanding that you will serve, or be subject to serve, as long as you hold that commission. Even when your contract is up, or you have put in your commission resignation letter, you can still be forced to serve through stop loss or the military deciding not to accept your resignation.

Of course, it would be better that a child be with a natural parent if the custodial military member is deployed, and as you stated, if the other parent is fit. However, I still say that many military members are being penalized by the courts because the courts are taking the children from them for something that is beyond their control most of the time, as most cannot just up and leave right after the divorce. Most military members who gain custody just have to hope they can get out before they are deployed. Imagine how you would feel if you divorced and were granted custody of the children, had a job that could jail you if you tried to up and quit when you decided you didn't want to be there any longer, then had the courts strip you of your kids because your job sent you someplace you couldn't take the kids. Even worse, when you were able to return, the courts didn't want to give you back your kids. Now that I think about it, both "penalize" and "subject to an injustice" are appropriate.
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