Saturday, May 12, 2007

Liberal Judges Punishing U.S. Armed Forces Parents?

Eva Crouch (pictured left) had raised her daughter for six years following her divorce, taking her daughter to after school activities and making sure schoolwork was done.

Then Lt. Eva Crouch was mobilized with the Kentucky National Guard, and Sara went to stay with Dad.

A year and a half later, her assignment up, she called her ex-husband and said she’d be there the next day to pick Sara up, but his response was a terse, “Not without a court order you won’t.”

Within a month, a judge had decided that Sara should stay with her dad. It was, he said, in “the best interests of the child.”

What happened? Crouch had already been established by the courts as the legal residential caretaker; this was only supposed to be temporary. What had changed? She wasn’t a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or an abusive mother.

Her only misstep, it seems, was answering the call to duty.

Crouch and an unknown number of others among the 140,000-plus single parents in uniform are now fighting a war on two fronts: overseas for the nation they’re sworn to defend, and on the domestic front, for the children they’re losing because of that duty.

There is a federal law called the Service-members Civil Relief Act is meant to protect them by staying civil court actions and administrative proceedings during military activation. They can’t be evicted. Creditors can’t seize their property and civilian health benefits, if suspended during deployment, must be reinstated.

And yet service members’ children can be — and are being — taken from them after they are deployed.
Some family court judges say that determining what’s best for a child in a custody case is simply not comparable to deciding civil property disputes and the like; they’ve ruled that family law trumps the federal law protecting America’s troops.

To date no one has made a coherent argument, legal or otherwise, why service-members should not retain the guardianship awarded prior to their deployments.

This has caused many supporters of the federal law to support changing it so that soldiers should be assured that they can regain the custody of the children they had custody of before their deployment.

Some states aren’t waiting for congressional action. In 2005, California enacted a law saying a parent’s absence due to military activation cannot be used to justify permanent changes in custody or visitation. Michigan and Kentucky followed suit, requiring that temporary changes made because of deployment revert back to the original agreement once deployment ends.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina.

Last September, Eva Crouch got Sara back.
Remarried now, Crouch is expecting another baby this August. But with 18 years in the military, she knows she could be mobilized again. One thing is clear to her now: Serving her country isn’t worth losing her daughter.

“I can’t leave my child again.”

Just what a Liberal judge would want, right?


Dan O. said...

This country is so ass-backwards when it comes to doing the right thing, especially for it's military.

What the hell is wrong with these people we call judges? They don't have an ounce of logic in their skulls and shouldn't be judging anything!

At least some states are getting it right.

And to think I've been (half jokingly) complaining for the 20 years I've been a vet that I don't get Veterans' Day off.

Anonymous said...

Where does it say the judge is a liberal. Stupid, absolutely, but there is no notation of the judge wearing the donkey.

I'm going to write to my representatives about this. I was raised by civilian parents, but this is wrong on all counts. Thanks so much for the article.

JMK said...

No question the soldiers are getting short-shrift in a lot ays on their return - poor medical care and poor legal protections from creditors and judges who make inane decisions like holding a parent's service against them in such matters.

I guess that's why some states are making their own laws to circumvent this process.

JMK said...

"Where does it say the judge is a liberal. Stupid, absolutely, but there is no notation of the judge wearing the donkey." (Rachel)

No Rachel, he isn't necessarily a Democrat, but the decision to take children away from returning service people would seem a "Liberal" one, in that it would seem decidedly anti-troop, if not also anti-war...and those sentiments shouldn't be involved those kinds of decisions.

I'm glad you found the article interesting. I did too.

I'm hoping for the day that "Liberal" isn't so synonymous with Democrat and "Conservative" not so synonymous with Republican.

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