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Military custody dispute instructive in Florida, nationally

Florida is home to a sizable number of Armed Forces personnel, both active-duty and reservist service members. In fact, and when all the state's Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard installations are considered, the population of military members in Florida totals well more than 100,000 persons.

And, just like members of the civilian population that they live and work among, soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines have their fair share of family law problems and issues to deal with. Especially with the singular problem of duty relocations that attaches to military life, child custody can be a central issue in a divorce proceeding.

In fact, some of the most novel and interesting -- as well as heart-rending -- stories relating to custody matters arise in the context of military marriages.

One such story recently surfaced in Utah, following the adoption of a baby girl born to an Army soldier and his wife by adoptive parents there, who were assisted by a state adoption agency.

That adoption has been thrown into turmoil by the fact that the father -- on temporary duty in South Carolina while his wife was pregnant in Texas -- never agreed to the adoption. He lost contact with his wife, who, following delivery, solicited the aid of the adoption agency in placing the child.

The soldier only found out about that many months later and promptly commenced litigation to gain custody over the baby girl.

Despite the strong and understandable protests of the adoptive parents, a Utah family court sided late last year with the father, noting that it was "deeply troubled" by the adoption agency's processing of the divorce without the father's consent.

A recent attempt to have the order rescinded was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court, and the child, who is now nearly two years old, is back with her father. The case continues, though, on appeal, with an upcoming hearing scheduled.

Source: New York Daily News, "'I got my daughter back': South Carolina military dad reunited with daughter who was put up for adoption without his consent," Erik Ortiz, Jan. 27, 2013

  • Our firm stands strongly beside military service members and members of the general population who have family law-related questions and concerns, including child custody matters that require the assistance of experienced legal counsel. Please visit our Miami-Dade County Child Custody page for further information.

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