MIL Laws Must Protect the Rights of Military Dads

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by Short Bus, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    Just an FYI for you fathers among us.

    Laws Must Protect the Rights of Military Dads
    By Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks

    When the Iraq war began two years ago, tens of thousands of fathers who serve in the Armed Forces expected hardship and sacrifice. However, they never expected that their children might be taken from them while they were deployed, or that their own government might jail them upon their return.

    Military service sometimes costs men their children. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act provides that if a parent moves a child to a new state, that new state becomes the child's presumptive residence after six months. With the long deployments necessitated by the war, a military spouse can move to another state while her spouse is deployed, divorce him, and then be virtually certain to gain custody through the divorce proceedings in the new state.

    Given service personnel’s limited ability to travel, the high cost of legal representation and travel, and the financial hardships created by child support and spousal support obligations, it is extremely difficult for fathers to fight for their parental rights in the new state. For many, their participation and meaningful role in their children’s lives ends—often permanently--the day they were deployed.

    In one highly-publicized case, Gary S., a San Diego-based US Navy SEAL, had his child permanently moved from California to the Middle East against his will while he was deployed in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The 18-year Navy veteran with an unblemished military record has seen his son only three times since he returned from Afghanistan in April, 2002. Meanwhile he is nearly bankrupt from child support, spousal support, travel costs, and legal fees.

    To solve the problem, the federal government must amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 (SCRA) (formerly known as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act) to specifically prohibit the spouses of active duty military personnel from permanently moving children to another state without the permission of the active duty military spouse or of a court. In addition, the UCCJEA needs to be modified to state that the presumption of new residence does not apply if the children are taken in this wrongful fashion.

    Also, states must do more to prevent custodial parents from moving children out of the lives of noncustodial parents, except in cases of abuse or dire economic need. For example, last year the California Supreme Court decided in LaMusga that courts should restrain moves that harm children by damaging the loving bonds they share with their noncustodial parents.

    While some military fathers face the loss of their children, others face prosecution and jail for child support obligations which their service has rendered them unable to pay.

    Support orders are based on civilian pay, which is generally higher than active duty pay. When reservists are called up to active duty they sometimes pay an impossibly high percentage of their income in child support.

    For example, a California naval reservist who has three children and who takes home $4,000 a month in his civilian job would have a child support obligation of about $1,600 a month. If this father is a petty officer second class (E5) who has been in the reserves for six or seven years--a middle-ranked reservist--his active-duty pay would only be $2,205 before taxes, in addition to a housing allowance. Under current California child support guidelines, the reservist’s child support obligation should be $550 a month, not $1,600.

    A reasonable reader unfamiliar with the wonders of the child support system would probably think “OK, but the courts would just straighten it out when the reservist gets back—certainly they wouldn’t punish him for something that happened because he was serving.” However, the federal Bradley Amendment prohibits judges from retroactively modifying child support beyond the date which an obligor has applied for a modification. Reservists can be mobilized with as little as one day’s notice. If a reservist didn’t have time or didn’t know he had to file for a downward modification, the arrearages stay, along with the interest and penalties charged on them.

    When the arrearage reaches $5,000—a common occurrence during long deployments—the father can become a felon who can be incarcerated or subject to a barrage of harsh civil penalties, including seizure of driver's licenses, business licenses and passports.

    In addition, reservists who return from long-deployments often find that their civilian earning capacity is now diminished. This is particularly true for the 6% of reservists who are self-employed, and whose businesses are often destroyed by their absence. Family law courts are notoriously unforgiving of fathers who suffer wage drops. Many if not most will have their former incomes imputed to them, meaning that their child support will not change despite their drop in income. Saddled with mounting arrearages, some reservists will return to fight a long battle to stay out of jail.

    Some reservists have their child support deducted automatically from their pay. Once deployed these fathers may lose 60% or 70% of their income and incur huge debts or face home foreclosures.

    To date Missouri is the only state to adequately address the issue. During the first Gulf War it passed a law requiring that reservists’ support obligations be automatically modified when they are called up for active duty. Other states, including California and Illinois, are currently considering legislation that would help reservists. However, tens of thousands of reservists were deployed before they could file for downward modifications. Only a repeal of the Bradley amendment—already widely seen as bad law within family law circles—can prevent them from facing years of debt, harassment, legal woes or even incarceration upon their return from active service.

    Like many veterans, Gary says he was very naïve about the troubles military fathers face in family law.

    The failure of our leaders in Washington to protect military fathers is a national disgrace,” he says. “Reservist fathers shouldn’t be turned into deadbeats. And no father should ever, ever lose his son or daughter simply because he served his country.


    This column was first published in the Army Times and Marine Corps Times (3/28/05).

    Jeffery M. Leving is one of America's most prominent family law attorneys. He is the author of the book Fathers' Rights: Hard-hitting and Fair Advice for Every Father Involved in a Custody Dispute. His website is www.dadsrights.com.

    Glenn Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of America's largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at www.GlennSacks.com or via email at [email protected].
     
  2. Maliboost

    Maliboost New Member

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    I think they should be protected but I will say one thing about child support obligations, it says their service has rendered them unable to pay, how so? they still get paid, they can and should be sending home money to support their child

    edit; nm, i see that they are still obligated to pay their civilian pay amout which is bs, i assumed it would be based off their military pay, until I read further
     
  3. Ranger-AO

    Ranger-AO I'm here for the Taliban party. Moderator

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    That would suck. Talk about a bad attitude... :ugh:
     
  4. Nixstress

    Nixstress Look at me! I am edgy and stabby! OT Supporter

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    Regardless if there is 1 days notice or 1 months notice, when a reservist is called to active duty they can apply online for modification of child support via their states attorney general's office. This service is done free of charge and as the article clearly states, it will be retroactive to the date the modification was filed.

    Bottom line, don't be a procrastinator, if you are changing jobs where your income will be significantly less then modify your child support payments to reflect your new income.
     
  5. Nixstress

    Nixstress Look at me! I am edgy and stabby! OT Supporter

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    FYI, a spouse cannot be divorced unless they have been served with papers, keep in mind that once you sign the papers they are good for 6months to a year depending on the state. If you sign papers, then decide to work things out, then get deployed the spouse can still go to court and divorce you without notifying you of a court date. Moral of the story: "Be careful when you sign legal documents"
     
  6. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    WTF... procrastinator? You ever been on a C-130? There's no internet. When you're called and told to pack your shit, you're leaving NOW it's somehow the man's fault that he wasn't able to apply for the modifications of child support?

    Have you ever deployed before? Do you have any idea how stressful it is to deal with even when you don't have all this bullshit to deal with? If you're sent to the middle of a war zone and are actually lucky enough to have internet access do you really want to be sending with this kind of sensitive personal information over an unsecure network?
     
  7. fintheman

    fintheman I will ebay O/T!

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    No offense, but I don't feel sorry for anyone who is in the military and then gets married and has children.

    I personally know I had more than enough examples of WHY not to get married, and heard countless stories after stories.

    Now I live near Ft Campbell, so, you can pretty much say 10 fold of what I saw in the Air Force happens over there in Campbell.

    Seriously, are people that much of idiots? People divorce left and right, it DOESN'T work out except in an EXTREME minority.

    Go ahead, get married, its not that big of a deal if you and the wifey get divorced, but hey, if you have a kid, your an ass.
     
  8. Nixstress

    Nixstress Look at me! I am edgy and stabby! OT Supporter

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    calm your horses chief. Typically when someone deploys there is someone back home (family, close friend) that is going to look after things for them. As I said before, filling out an application online doesn't take but 5 minutes and someone can fill it out for them. It is possible and can be done. During deployments bills still have to get paid and things back home still have to be taken care of and squared away. Whatever trusted individual in the military person's life that is helping out can certainly fill out an online application for them as well.
     
  9. Jyokker

    Jyokker The trouser snake is very aggressive. It will corn

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    :wavey:
     
  10. fintheman

    fintheman I will ebay O/T!

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    lol, sorry

    I was just the nice guy that heard one to many stories and I eventually got sick of it, so I usually tell everyone that I know that is in, to stay the f away from that, and girls to stay the f away from dating guys who will be gone longer then they've known the poor sap.
     
  11. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    Five minutes... you've filled out one of these applications before? So you know the process? How long does it take for this application to be approved? What if it gets denied?
     
  12. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    I share similar feelings and probably won't be married while I'm in the military. However, I would never blame anybody for wanting the security and stability that goes along with marriage. I also think it's a bit much to call a person an ass because they want kids.
     
  13. fintheman

    fintheman I will ebay O/T!

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    Not because they want kids

    But when they bail out on the kids, or deprive them of having both parents around.
     
  14. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    You're making the assumption that *all* military fathers are away from their children for significant periods of time.
     
  15. MrRyan

    MrRyan Gary Johnson 2016 OT Supporter

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    unfortunately the stigma of military men out to sport fuck anything will always follow us.
     
  16. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    I thought that was the stigma of men in general. :dunno:

    I do see the point, but I would like to see what percent of military men are away from home for two months at a time or more during the course of a year.
     
  17. TRN

    TRN Well-Known Member

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    It's pretty sad.

    I work with one guy who has 3 kids with 3 different mothers. :ugh:
     
  18. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    That guy has issues. At what point do you realize that it's time to get your shit snipped?
     
  19. Nixstress

    Nixstress Look at me! I am edgy and stabby! OT Supporter

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    Yes I have filled out an online application with the Texas Attorney general's office and it took about 5 minutes for me, this is how I know. As far as how long before it gets approved, the article you posted said that the pay change was retroactive from the point where modification has been applied for, this is why it is important to take 5 minutes to fill out the application ASAP.
     
  20. Nixstress

    Nixstress Look at me! I am edgy and stabby! OT Supporter

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    It's really going to depend on their MOS and where they are stationed. We lived in Germany for 3 years and when we had arrived our unit had just redeployed, they then left again for 1 year and later for 6months. Also they were gone 2 months out of each summer for field training. They would leave for 28 days, come home for a weekend and then leave again for a month. The reason they came home for the weekend was so the Army wouldn't have to pay separation pay to the soldiers.
     

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