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Serving your country should not cost you your children

24447212_S.jpgMilitary service members give much in the service of their country. They often spend years overseas on extended deployments, and during the last decade or so, they have frequently spent time in combat zones, risking their very lives every day. And while there is much discussion of how they are heroes, if they have children, they may find their treatment is often far from heroic.


This story involved a woman living in Florida, but given the number of servicemembers deployed, including those from elements of National Guard units from around the nation, she could just as likely have been from Columbia or anywhere else in Missouri, and encountered similar difficulties involving her child custody.


She was married when she entered military service and had two children. While overseas, she was informed of a "family situation," and need to take emergency leave to attend to her children. Her husband was unreliable and spent time in jail. They separated and she was forced to place her children in the custody of her stepmother.

Her military service demanded she remain overseas. At the end of her deployment, she found that her stepmother had taken her children without permission to New Jersey. To make matters worse, the stepmother lost custody of the children to the state.

The children's mother was now faced with the difficult issue of bringing her children to Florida, but needed court permission from both New Jersey and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). The children were receiving  special services from New Jersey and it sounds as if the Florida DFC did not want to provide similar services.

She and her attorney finally appear to have obtained the approval from a judge and the states' DFCs, and now await the implementation of an interstate compact to complete the transfer.

With complex interstate custody issues, an attorney is almost always necessary, as the interaction of multiple jurisdictions laws can be overwhelming.

Source: mynews13.com, "Florida military mom to regain custody of kids in NJ foster care," Saul Saenz, August 19, 2015

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