Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.
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Should a parent unable to fulfill custody agreement be arrested?

Whether in Arizona or another state, when it comes to child custody agreements, parents should understand that the agreements need to be followed. If the father is supposed to share custody with the mother, he needs to make sure that the schedule is followed. If the mother has sole custody but the father can see the children on certain holidays, she needs to drop the kids off per the arrangement.

As life goes, there are always unplanned situations or things that just slip our minds. So what happens if one parent fails to follow a custody order because he or she is unable to bring the child to their former spouse?

This can be an especially interesting question for parents where one or both spouses are military members. One father had reported for duty; as an officer in the Navy his posting was on a submarine “somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.” Unfortunately, it was during that assignment that he was supposed to bring his daughter to his ex-wife who lives several states away.

Even though the officer’s current wife showed proof of his duty posting, the judge denied the motion for a stay, which would essentially halt the legal process for 90 days. For servicemembers, this stay is provided by a set of federal guidelines, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. In addition, the judge determined that a warrant for the father’s arrest should be issued. The judge reasoned that even though the father was unable to bring his daughter to his former wife, his current wife could have helped with the exchange.

It’s unclear exactly how the situation will be resolved. It seems like the current wife is working on a way to bring the daughter to the man’s former wife. But what of the father? Will he be arrested? Does this make sense? If a parent is physically unable to fulfill a custody agreement, should that parent be penalized?

Source: The Daily Telegram, “Submarine duty no defense in child custody case,” Dennis Pelham, June 17, 2014.

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