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Sailor Retrieves Children, Awarded Custody with Help of Volunteer Legal Team

March 11, 2016

A Navy servicemember’s two children had been solely residing with him for over a year after his wife left them. However, his wife recently returned and asked if she could visit their children. When the servicemember provided access to his home, his wife absconded with the children and took them to another state. The servicemember was very concerned about his children’s well-being, along with his oldest child’s absence from school. No child custody order was in place, so the servicemember needed help to get an emergency custody order.

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the sailor to an experienced law school clinic attorney and several law students, who were successful in securing an emergency pick-up order for the sailor to retrieve his two children. Then, after attending several court hearings on behalf of the servicemember, the sailor’s pro bono legal team was able to finalize his divorce awarding him physical custody of his children with a timesharing schedule for his former spouse. Finally, the legal team fashioned an agreement whereby any time the servicemember received orders to a different military installation anywhere in the world, he would not be required to modify the parenting plan. The sailor has reported that his children are adjusting well after returning home with him and his oldest child was able to return to her elementary school on the first day of class.

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