New Jersey Mother and Father have Daughter.
Mother is deployed to Iraq for nearly a year.
Daughter is in Father’s care during Mother’s deployment.
Before Mother departs for Iraq, with the assistance of the military, Mother and Father devise a parenting plan for her return. Nothing goes through the courts though.
Father denies Mother access to Daughter except for a few, short visits.
Father maintains that Daughter doesn’t really know Mother.
The military does nothing to enforce the parenting plan agreed to.
Now Mother and Father are going through the courts.
Each parents seeks sole custody of Daughter.
It has become commonplace for returning soldiers to find their custody or visitation whittled down. Returning mothers are experiencing this to an even greater degree than returning fathers.
Although there has been much lobbying for changes in law to prevent this from happening, remedial legislation has not gone as far as may be needed. The military has not pressed for more, not even enforcement authority for parenting plans.
Special statutes notwithstanding, deployment away from a one year old for an extended period of time poses challenges in protecting children’s interests and well-being that a family court judge cannot ignore.
Daughter cried upon Mother’s return.
A family court judge has given Father temporary residential custody of Daughter with provision for daily visits and weekly overnight visits to Mother.
Mother reports that she would oppose any threatened redeployment.