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War Veterans Return Home To Custody Battles
The Indy Channel ^ | March 17, 2006 | AP

Posted on 03/17/2006 9:54:54 AM PST by Abathar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two Kansas City-area women are fighting to get their children back after serving their country overseas.

When Dena Stephenson went off to war, her 6-year-old daughter, Kristina, went to stay with her father. Stephenson followed the military's Family Care Plan, which gave temporary power of attorney and guardianship of her child to the father.

"Once I came back from deployment, naturally, my child wanted to be with me nonstop," Stephenson said.

Stephenson said she was supposed to get Kristina back when she returned home, but now the girl's father is asking for 50-50 custody.

"I don't agree with that as a parenting plan. I don't think it's healthy for the child and I've already missed a year of her life," Stephenson said. "It hurts me that he's trying to do this, and in the long run, I think it's going to hurt her, too."

Regina Ellis is going through a similar experience. She was deployed overseas for a year, and she also followed the Family Care Plan. Now that she's back, Ellis has lost custody of her son, Trevor.

This month, her ex-husband gained full-time custody, and Ellis said she sees Trevor only every other weekend.

"It's not just us and it's not just the Army and it's not just females -- this is military-wide, and it hurts," Ellis said.

Both Ellis and Stephenson are fighting their cases in court this spring.

KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo., reported that a law passed in 2003 is supposed to protect soldiers in war zones from civil lawsuits until they return. But now that law is being challenged in Kansas courts.

There is also a case pending before the Kansas Supreme Court about a Marine who lost custody of his son while he was in Iraq.

"If I'd never been deployed to Iraq, I don't think we'd be going through this," Stephenson said.

A spokeswoman at Fort Riley said returning soldiers are offered re-entry counseling, but no legal assistance in civil matters.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: anamericansoldier; custody; militarymoms; militarywomen; oifveterans
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1 posted on 03/17/2006 9:54:56 AM PST by Abathar
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To: Abathar
Stephenson said she was supposed to get Kristina back when she returned home, but now the girl's father is asking for 50-50 custody.

He's probably paying 100% child support, but it's wrong for him to have 50% custody.

Sounds like a one-way street to me.

2 posted on 03/17/2006 9:57:48 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam Factoid:After forcing young girls to watch his men execute their fathers, Muhammad raped them.)
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To: Abathar
If I'd never been deployed to Iraq, I don't think we'd be going through this," Stephenson said.

welcome to a dude's world. you've come a long way baby.

3 posted on 03/17/2006 9:57:55 AM PST by Rakkasan1 (Muslims pray to Allah, Allah prays to Chuck Norris.)
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To: Abathar

"If I'd never been deployed to Iraq, I don't think we'd be going through this," Stephenson said.

So none of the things you did prior to that had any effect on your life, huh?


4 posted on 03/17/2006 9:59:26 AM PST by L98Fiero (I'm worth a million in prizes.)
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To: Rakkasan1
The women are fighting in war, what kind of men are these guys?
5 posted on 03/17/2006 10:00:42 AM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: Rakkasan1

My thoughts exactly.


6 posted on 03/17/2006 10:00:59 AM PST by DesignerChick
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To: Abathar
"I don't agree with that as a parenting plan. I don't think it's healthy for the child and I've already missed a year of her life," Stephenson said. "It hurts me that he's trying to do this, and in the long run, I think it's going to hurt her, too."

No lady, it's won't hurt her to spend time with her father on a regular basis...

7 posted on 03/17/2006 10:06:01 AM PST by SunStar (Democrats piss me off!)
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To: Abathar

This is an interesting issue on a number of levels, but what I find so intriguing is that it basically involves a conflict between Federal law (under the military's Family Care Plan) and state law (under Kansas rules regarding child custody).


8 posted on 03/17/2006 10:07:40 AM PST by Alberta's Child
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To: Abathar

It's happening and it sucks. IMNSHO


9 posted on 03/17/2006 10:10:30 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: Abathar

but now the girl's father is asking for 50-50 custody.




So he is a bad father for WANTING to be a part of his childs' life?


10 posted on 03/17/2006 10:11:51 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Islam is a Cult of Death that has been infiltrated by a few non-violent believers.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Agree totally. I bet she still wants that 100% child support and for him to just go away and mail the check each month.

Men=ATM


11 posted on 03/17/2006 10:12:03 AM PST by packrat35 (The America hating bastards at the NYT must spend their entire life with their heads in the toilet)
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To: Rakkasan1

If I'd never been deployed to Iraq, I don't think we'd be going through this," Stephenson said.




There. Now she's equal.


12 posted on 03/17/2006 10:12:37 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Islam is a Cult of Death that has been infiltrated by a few non-violent believers.)
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To: SunStar

I think that it is probably healthier for the child to not suddenly have to go from living with her father to living with her mother via joint custody. The article doesn't say how long she was away, but the child I'm sure has grown used to living with her father.


13 posted on 03/17/2006 10:12:39 AM PST by LWalk18
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker
Thanks DACOWITZ and all our so called leaders who have allowed this crap in America...

imo

14 posted on 03/17/2006 10:13:51 AM PST by joesnuffy (A camel once bit our sister..but we knew just what to do...we gathered rocks and squashed her!)
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To: Rakkasan1

This is the only - ONLY - time I have ever heard of the mother being denied custody. ALWAYS, the man has his kids taken from him by some Judge Judy-type activist lawyer.

I agree with you. Equality sucks for the people who use the word as a cudgel.


15 posted on 03/17/2006 10:14:09 AM PST by Old Sarge (My vigor to fight has been renewed.)
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To: Abathar

Funny noone ever had a problem with men having every other weekend visitation. I think if both parents are willing, 50/50 parenting is fine and fair. Both parents must agree to live near each other, but most want to pretend their previous life didn't exist and act like they have no obligation to their ex-spouse and child. They do. Lesson, make damn sure before you go having kids with someone.


16 posted on 03/17/2006 10:14:32 AM PST by sandbar
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To: Abathar
"now the girl's father is asking for 50-50 custody."

Oh, how sinister!

/sarc

17 posted on 03/17/2006 10:16:28 AM PST by BizzeeMom
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker

The women are fighting in war, what kind of men are these guys?




Welcome to the 21st century.


18 posted on 03/17/2006 10:18:58 AM PST by trubluolyguy (Islam is a Cult of Death that has been infiltrated by a few non-violent believers.)
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker
The women are fighting in war, what kind of men are these guys?

Maybe they are fathers, that due to the system that works against men, never had a fighting chance to have their kids live with them and to experience the joy of parenthood. After getting the chance, they might not only love their kids even more for having actually spending a lot of time with them, but see an opening to be a larger part of their kids' lives.

19 posted on 03/17/2006 10:19:51 AM PST by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker
The women are fighting in war, what kind of men are these guys?

I don't know but I sure wouldn't show my face in public if my wife was deployed and I was the stay-at-home dad.

20 posted on 03/17/2006 10:24:58 AM PST by Looking4Truth (We in the U.S. know the rest of the world is nearly useless and we're sick of carrying their asses!)
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To: packrat35

How about when the tables are turned and fathers lose their rights because they serve?? It's happened and it's not funny either way.


21 posted on 03/17/2006 10:43:16 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker

compare how many guys got drafted and killed to the number of women.
compare ratios of male/females killed now in Iraq/Afghanistan.
compare the number of men who get custoday to women.
compare PT test score requirements.
then we'll have a good place to start the "fairness" baseline.


22 posted on 03/17/2006 10:46:55 AM PST by Rakkasan1 (Muslims pray to Allah, Allah prays to Chuck Norris.)
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To: StarCMC
How about when the tables are turned and fathers lose their rights because they serve?? It's happened and it's not funny either way.

What about the children? Should they be taken out of school midyear and from where they have been living for sometimes more than a year. Keep in mind the children aren't living with strangers: we are talking about the other parent here. The interests of the children should come first, they are not property.

23 posted on 03/17/2006 10:56:04 AM PST by LWalk18
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To: LWalk18
The interests of the children should come first, they are not property.

That's right. Funny you should put it that way.

24 posted on 03/17/2006 11:01:30 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker
what kind of men are these guys?

The kind who don't run out on their kids. The kind who have as much right to custody as the mothers - who volunteered for jobs which they knew might take them away from their children for months at a time.

25 posted on 03/17/2006 11:06:44 AM PST by PAR35
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To: trebb
My point is that the roles have changed men used to go to war to protect the family, now women are going to war to protect the family.
26 posted on 03/17/2006 11:07:29 AM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: StarCMC
How about when the tables are turned and fathers lose their rights because they serve?

I have sympathy for every guy who was drafted who has had that happen in the last 10 years.

As to the volunteers, everyone has to choose between career and family.

27 posted on 03/17/2006 11:10:06 AM PST by PAR35
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To: trubluolyguy

I listen to Dr. Laura almost every day during lunch. I'm not sure what kind of society we're in now, I hear both good and bad, but the bad seems to be really bad.


28 posted on 03/17/2006 11:13:27 AM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: PAR35

IMO that's a cop out. Sorry. Try again.


29 posted on 03/17/2006 11:17:41 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: Alberta's Child
The Family Care Plan isn't a federal law. It is a DOD regulation. It requires that single parents file a plan for the care of their child(ren), if they are deployed. I find the reference to the Family Care Plan as pretty weak legal argument.

Now that being said. The service member's election to place a child in the custody of the other parent during deployment should not be looked upon by the courts as a voluntary surrender of custody. I also think they will probably find legal protections from having custody decisions made in their absence.

30 posted on 03/17/2006 11:21:34 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: Old Sarge
I had a buddy of mine who had troubles getting primary custody of his children, even after his ex-wife showed up drunk to a 10 a.m. hearing. She only blew a .078 so the magistrate let her keep custody.
31 posted on 03/17/2006 11:25:18 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: StarCMC
It all comes down to the best interests of the child.

Is the child best served by being with a parent who is there for them, and can give a stable environment, or by the parent who wants an on call babysitter in another city where they can dump the child when their job takes them out of the country for a few months?

32 posted on 03/17/2006 11:30:43 AM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35

So the only people serving in our military should be single?


33 posted on 03/17/2006 11:36:23 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: USNBandit
The service member's election to place a child in the custody of the other parent during deployment should not be looked upon by the courts as a voluntary surrender of custody.

Agreed. But on the other hand, a stable environment for the child should be part of the 'best interests' inquiry.

I also think they will probably find legal protections from having custody decisions made in their absence.

I also agree that that is the current law, and a good one, but it appears that that law is being challenged. "KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Mo., reported that a law passed in 2003 is supposed to protect soldiers in war zones from civil lawsuits until they return. But now that law is being challenged in Kansas courts."

34 posted on 03/17/2006 11:36:57 AM PST by PAR35
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

If you don't want to share custody, DON'T GET DIVORCED.


35 posted on 03/17/2006 11:40:50 AM PST by Hildy
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To: StarCMC
So the only people serving in our military should be single?

I didn't say that. Long overseas deployments, however, may not be in the best interests of the child.

A similar issue is beginning to appear on the civilian side as well. Yuppie parents get divorced; one takes a job across the country. Courts are starting to give custody to the parent who stays in town as being less disruptive to the child.

36 posted on 03/17/2006 11:45:18 AM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35

You didn't have to say it: it's inherent in your argument that military service, if it involves deployment - which in today's world we must assume it does - is incongruent with having a family.


37 posted on 03/17/2006 11:49:10 AM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: Abathar

One more reason why women don't belong in the military.


38 posted on 03/17/2006 11:49:34 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: StarCMC

It's not incongruent if one parent is deployed while the other remains at home with kids--that is a reasonable sacrifice people have made for ages. But if parents are divorced, and one leaves for an extended period, it should be expected that the other one will gain (and continue to have, in the interest of stability) a larger role in the children's lives.


39 posted on 03/17/2006 11:55:39 AM PST by Young Scholar
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker
The women are fighting in war

Fighting? I doubt it. Besides, I don't see you on the front lines, what's your excuse?

40 posted on 03/17/2006 11:57:06 AM PST by Centurion2000 (Islam's true face: http://makeashorterlink.com/?J169127BC)
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To: Centurion2000

47


41 posted on 03/17/2006 11:57:37 AM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: StarCMC
incongruent with having a family.

Except we aren't talking about all military, are we? We are talking about military folks who were either 1)never married (which is detrimental to having a healthy family) or 2) divorced (which means the family that they had wasn't very healthy).

So I'll agree that a person with an unhealty family situation, who happens to be in the military, may not be the ideal parent.

And now I'm out of here for a good while, but if you want to continue, I'll be happy to pick it back up when I return to the computer.

42 posted on 03/17/2006 11:58:46 AM PST by PAR35
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To: Young Scholar

So, for the sake of argument, the man who leaves the US in service to his country, in good faith, and has a wife left at home who decides for whatever reason, that she's had enough and files for divorce, should then be penalized BY the goevernment which he serves for his choice to serve our country by losing custody of his kids as well??


43 posted on 03/17/2006 12:00:09 PM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: LWalk18
I think that it is probably healthier for the child to not suddenly have to go from living with her father to living with her mother via joint custody.

So, you prefer the alternative, which is being raised by one parent and excluding the other?

44 posted on 03/17/2006 12:05:43 PM PST by SunStar (Democrats piss me off!)
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To: PreviouslyA-Lurker

And which branch were you in?


45 posted on 03/17/2006 12:14:03 PM PST by Centurion2000 (Islam's true face: http://makeashorterlink.com/?J169127BC)
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To: Centurion2000

I was never in the military and I'm too old to go in now (if they would even want me).


46 posted on 03/17/2006 12:16:08 PM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: Looking4Truth

Actually it is the ex-wife.


47 posted on 03/17/2006 12:17:12 PM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: USNBandit

Be sure to work to keep that judge from being re-elected.


48 posted on 03/17/2006 12:20:42 PM PST by PreviouslyA-Lurker (...where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
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To: PAR35

Thanks for the discussion. FRegards.


49 posted on 03/17/2006 12:45:15 PM PST by StarCMC (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing...thank you Sarge.)
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To: StarCMC

If the divorce happens after he's already deployed (or committed), that's certainly a reasonable exception to that I said. But if he's already separated and still goes off for an extended time, he should expect less of a relationship. I respect his sacrifice, and he certainly shouldn't lose all his time with his kids, but it's probably in the best interest of the kids to remain with their mother if they've been with her full-time for a year.


50 posted on 03/17/2006 12:51:04 PM PST by Young Scholar
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