Create an office where members of the armed forces and veterans who have lost the custody of their children while they were at war can receive legal assistance and legal representation from lawyers who are trained in child custody cases. The U.S. government has to take responsibility and assist Servicemembers that lost the custody of their children while fulfilling their duty overseas. Many of these Servicemembers did not have the opportunity to go to the U.S. to attend hearings in civilian courts to defend themselves against the claims for custody. The only reason a Servicemembers may be able to return stateside is if something happens to the Soldier’s Next of Kin, any other reason would be up to the Servicemembers chain of command. A child custody case is not considered an emergency. These Servicemembers proved their commitment to their nation remaining in the fight against terrorism in foreign lands while on American soil their children were abducted by the other parent, they are losing custody of their children, courts are increasing child support payments , access to their children is being limited, and many other injustices. Many Servicemembers were on extended missions against their will under the "Stop Loss Policy" creating for the Servicemembers and his family many difficulties.
Many of these Servicemembers have found little or no help from the military to support them in their civil cases. The fact that the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice 10 years after the conflict in the Middle East began have not yet established a permanent measure to protect Servicemembers from being sued in civil cases while they are in a war zone make the future for this Servicemembers uncertain. The Department of Defense still deploying Servicemembers without a permanent solution to this, living millions of Servicemembers unprotected and allowing courts to criminalize the work that Servicemembers do overseas. Most courts will give priority to the other party even if the custodial parent has been the Servicemember throughout the child’s life. The Soldiers and veterans need to be represented by experts in the field who can convince the judges of the reasons why many of the Servicemembers cannot go to defend their cases while they are in conflict zones or their chain of command does not allow them to. Many Servicemembers do not have the money to pay for legal services and many states have not yet created laws to protect the rights of Servicemembers departing for combat zones. It is the responsibility of government to create this type of aid to ensure our soldiers are prepared to go to battle and their families are protected while they are outside the overseas.
As many other parents this is my story. I was serving in the U. S. Army in since 2006 when I was sued for child custody. My chain of command did not allow me to go to the court house hearing because my unit C co 626 BSB 101st ABN DIV Fort Campbell KY was about to deploy to Iraq. My 1sg and Commander wrote a letter to the court house in Puerto Rico, Tribunal Supremo de Bayamon. Requesting my hearings to be delayed until my return. The judges accuse me of “rebellion” for not been present to the hearing and assign the custody of my son to his father without maternal rights for visitation or any rights towards my son. Since that day the father of my son cut off all communication between me and my son and did not allow me to see him freely. We need to stop criminalizing soldiers just for the job they do. I still fight the custody of my son on the court after 6 years. The government has to start giving some support to soldiers in this matter.
Joseline Armistead started this petition with a single signature, and now has 249 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.