Federal government refuses to provide testimony in custody case

Many former and current soldiers live in Sarasota, trying to resume their daily lives and leave the horrors of the Iraq war behind them. However, sometimes, an ex-spouse or partner will attempt to use the soldier's interior struggles as evidence against them in a military family law case involving custody of their children. In some custody issues, soldiers may have to prove that they are capable mentally and emotionally of caring for their children.

However, for one father, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, the government is unwilling to help him in his child custody challenge and the case has stalled. The U.S. Attorney's office has taken the stance that the government should not be drawn into a private case and has taken action in a federal court to prevent it from happening. The difficulty began when the father asked his psychiatrist at the VA hospital to testify on his behalf to show that he was fit to be a parent, despite his diagnosis of having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

However, the VA hospital refused to allow the mental health professional to testify, despite the fact that the doctor was willing to do so. As a result of the refusal, the judge cannot make a ruling and it is unknown whether the father even has visitation of any kind with his infant son.

When family law matters involve military matters, parents may have a difficult time acquiring the help they need. It may help, however, to have legal counsel that is experienced with military family law so that they can use the courts to defend soldiers' parental rights.

Source: YNN, "A veteran's claim of betrayal," Bill Carey, April 1, 2013

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