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Soldier faces child custody battle over a 21-month-old baby

People who work for the military are often posted to other countries, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and must endure long periods of time away from their children and spouses. In South Carolina, some families, in which one spouse is in the service, are accustomed to such absences. But such absences can affect military family relationships, potentially resulting in a military divorce for the spouses.

When one spouse decides to file for a divorce while the other spouse is in another country, the divorce case can progress as long as both parties have legal representatives. Clients and legal representatives can stay in contact by means of e-mail correspondence and phone calls.

One soldier is currently involved in a child custody case against the adoptive parents of his 21-month-old baby. The father had left his family in Texas for military service in South Carolina. According to his lawyer, his wife travelled from Texas to Utah, gave birth to a baby girl and, without his consent, signed adoption papers giving the child to another couple. In 2010, a family from a Provo suburb adopted the baby through the Adoption Center of Choice.

According to the soldier's representative, for three months, the soldier did not know that the baby had been adopted. When officials hired the soldier as a drill sergeant in South Carolina, he sought to travel back to Texas in order to be with his baby, only to find out about the adoption. The solider and his wife divorced in March 2012.

The agency at which the adoption took place is undergoing corrective action after the state discovered discrepancies with its documents. The baby is temporarily in the custody of the adoptive parents while the soldier waits for the state court trial in January 2013.

Divorce can be a complex process, especially military divorces where medical benefits and military retirement are involved. Child custody can also be complicated in military families; as this case shows, parents in the military may have difficulty retaining their rights to child custody. These issues can be resolved with the help of a professional who has experience in handling military divorces.

Source: Armytimes.com, "GI father battles for custody of baby," Brady McCombs, Dec. 7, 2012

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