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Case highlights child custody concerns for Minnesota's servicemen

A U.S. Navy sailor currently serving in a submarine somewhere in the Pacific Ocean is missing a child custody dispute over his 6-year-old daughter. According to reports out of Michigan, the sailor received full custody of his daughter after a divorce with his first wife. He subsequently remarried and has been living with his daughter and new wife in Washington state for the last four years.

Despite this, his ex recently filed a child custody petition in Michigan. The local judge initially indicated that if the sailor did not report to her courtroom she would have no choice but to grant custody to the girl's mother and issue a bench warrant for the man's arrest. This sent the man's wife and daughter into a panic to prevent such drastic results. While the tale may seem unique, many parents in Minnesota also struggle with similar custody battles.

Fortunately for the sailor, his attorney was successfully able to present the Service Members Relief Act to the court. This federal statute generally gives those serving in the armed forces additional time to appear and respond to custody petitions. As a result, this dad will have time to come home and state his case.

When he gets home, though, he will be forced to defend his parental rights in Michigan, thousands of miles from his home. These interstate custody battles are commonplace in today's society, especially for families of service members who are constantly being moved from base to base.

Minnesotans are not immune. We have thousands of citizens currently serving in the military. Since the stresses of their duties often result in divorce and separation, servicemen and -women are at a higher risk of custody disputes. Given their unique circumstances, these battles can present distinct challenges. Fortunately, local St. Paul attorneys are experts at helping all parents get through the most difficult custody disputes.

Source: NYDailyNews.com, "Sailor's inability to appear in court while serving on submarine threatens custody of daughter," Nina Golgowski, June 19, 2014

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