Zuba & Associates, P.C.

Illinois child custody: Marine fights to regain custody of son

A Marine who lost child custody after an Afghanistan deployment has recently had the ruling overturned in his favor. The man and his wife divorced only a year after the birth of their child, and they shared custody. The Marine had primary custody, allowing him to choose the school district the child attended. Once he deployed, child custody was granted to the mother with the understanding it would revert back to him once he returned home. Illinois military parents may commiserate with the plight of this man because they may have experienced the same issues.

However, about a month after he left, the mother went to the court and asked for permission to move the child to a different school district. The father was unable to make the hearing, and her request was approved. When he returned home and attempted to regain custody of his son, he became entangled in a lengthy battle against his ex-wife.

The court required a review from a doctor about the child's best interests. What resulted was a reported stating the child could thrive in either home, but may be better off staying in the district the mother moved him to. Primary custody was granted to the mother, but the father fought back, eventually scoring an overturned ruling and regaining custody. In the ruling, the court stated the review never should have occurred and the school district comment didn't matter. The battle resulted in a change to California law preventing court-ordered reviews unless substantial proof is offered concerning parenting ability for the primary care parent.

Military parents living in Illinois may fear the possibility of deployment because of how it could affect child custody. Fortunately this Marine prevailed in his case, but others may not be as fortunate. Seeking out assistance and understanding one's legal rights may not prevent litigation over child custody in the future, but it could help prepare them for the scenario.

Source: kpbs.org, "Camp Pendleton Marine Who Lost Custody Of Son Gets Second Chance," Jan. 3, 2013

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