Why? Because he didn’t appear, in Michigan, for a court custody hearing.
The man had been given full custody of his young daughter in 2010 after Children’s Protective Services removed the girl from her mother’s home due to neglect and reports of abuse.
The sailor was later called for active duty, made care arrangements for his daughter with his current wife — whom the 6-year-old calls Mom — and stepped aboard his submarine. His ex-wife — who had the child taken away from her years prior — then petitioned the court for custody of the girl.
In his absence, the sailor’s attorney asked for a stay in the case. The judge denied the request and put the child back into her mother’s custody.
The story of the little girl, ripped away from the other mother she has known and the father she idolizes, made national headlines.
How could this have ever happened? Custody wrangling while a member of the military is away from home is not acceptable and never should be.
State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, answered the pleas of protest and called the actions of the judge “an insult to all servicemen and women.”
After public pressure, the judge later lifted the order and delayed the proceedings. Still, Jones said, there is a need to do whatever is necessary to prevent future miscarriages of justice.
To do so, he has introduced legislation — Senate Bill 1015 — that would make it illegal to change parenting agreements while a serviceman or woman is away serving our country, as long as the child is in a safe environment.
The legislation would also prevent judges from punishing those servicemen and women unable to return home for hearings because of their deployment.
As long as the children are safe, healthy and happy in the current custody arrangement, there should be no need to further disrupt the lives of our military men and women. We therefore wholeheartedly support Jones’ legislation and look forward to the bill’s speedy passage through the state Legislature.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Fred VandenBrand and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.