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Sailor's child custody case paused, while he is out to sea

Photo of Karen Lavin


Many Illinoisans have likely heard about the child custody lawsuit between a submariner and his former wife over their six-year-old daughter. The case made national headlines when it looked like a family-law court might take the child away from the submariner, while he was out to sea.

That result will no longer happen. The family-law judge recently put the case on ice, while the sailor is out to sea. In support, the judge cited a federal law that stops court actions involving military personnel who are away on duty. The judge claims she would have paused the case earlier, but did not know, until recently, that the sailor was out to sea.

Fortunately, the out-to-sea issue has worked itself out, but the pause does not mean that the sailor's child-custody issues are also settled. Once he returns from duty, he will have to work through custody of his daughter.

Just as the sailor still needs to work through child custody, so too do many Illinoisans. In coming to that answer, parents need to decide on two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody goes to the parent whom the child will primarily live with. Physical custody can come in several shapes and sizes. At one spectrum, one of the parents will receive full-time custody. At the other end, both parents will share custody jointly, with the child going back and forth between the parents. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the right make choices about a child's health, education and religion.

Illinoisans facing these issues may benefit from discussing their case with an experienced family-law attorney. The key to protecting your rights is knowing them.

Source: KOMO, "Judge orders break in sailor's child custody case," Keith Eldridge, June 23, 2014

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