Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Fighting for child custody when overseas

Many of our nation's bravest men and women leave their families to go serve in the military overseas. When they do, they want to believe that their rights as parents are protected while they are gone. Unfortunately, some may find this is not the case. For military service members currently residing in Massachusetts, there was a recent story in the news regarding deployment and child custody that may be of interest.

A young man in another state settled down, got married and had a child with his wife. As they often do, marital issues began and by the time the child was 2 years old the couple was divorced and the young man found himself the primary custody holder. The child is now 11 years old and for the first time since the divorce is in the custody of his biological mother -- but not by choice.

The father found out that his son had been removed from his home and placed with the biological mother while the father was serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. His current wife is in the process of fighting the custody change but has been unsuccessful in doing so. He, too, is doing what he can while serving 12,000 miles from home, as his son has asked him to keep fighting to have the custody change reversed.

Why now and how could this happen when the father was not around to do anything about it? It is unclear as to why the child's biological mother now decided to seek child custody, but the judge in the case agreed to a temporary change for the time being. When custody orders are in place and a family plan in order, it seems wrong that during deployment such a massive change could occur without the primary custody holder being told about it -- but it happened and that means it could happen again. Massachusetts residents who are military service members and parents can take steps to fight to protect their rights as parents and custody holders with the assistance of a skilled family law attorney.

Source: kten.com, "Soldier, wife take child custody appeal to social media", Amelia Mugavero, Dec. 27, 2017

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