This story is just horrible. The AP is reporting numerous cases of soldiers serving in the military that have had their children taken away while they are in active duty.
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 have ruled that family law trumps the federal law protecting servicemembers. And so, in many cases when a soldier deploys, the ex-spouse seeks custody, and temporary changes become lasting.One of these cases is an Iowa National Guardsman...
These people are already sacrificing so much and now their children are being taken away from them. How much more can we ask our troops to sacrifice?
Iowa Guardsman Mike Grantham thought he was serving the best interests of his children when he arranged for his son and daughter to stay with his mother before reporting for duty in August 2002. She lived a few blocks from the kids' school in Clarksville, Iowa, and he figured, "There wouldn't be much disruption."
He had raised Brianna and Jeremy since his 2000 divorce, when ex-wife Tammara turned physical custody over to him.
After mobilizing, Grantham was served with a custody petition from Tammara, delivered to his unit's armory. His lawyer tried twice to request a stay under the federal law. His commanding officer even wrote a letter stating that Grantham's battalion was charged with protecting U.S. facilities deemed national security interests and that his case would cause the entire command structure "to refocus away from the military mission."
The trial judge nevertheless held hearings without Grantham and temporarily placed the children with Tammara. A year later, though Grantham had returned from duty, the judge made Tammara the primary physical custodian.
An appeals court later sided with Grantham, saying: "A soldier, who answered our Nation's call to defend, lost physical care of his children ... offending our intrinsic sense of right and wrong."
But the Iowa Supreme Court disagreed, saying Tammara was "presently the most effective parent."
Now, Grantham says, his visitation rights mirror those that his ex-wife once had: every other weekend, Wednesdays, and certain holidays _ Father's Day, for example.