Matthew Hindes of the U.S. Navy was granted permanent custody of his 6-year-old daughter Kaylee in 2010, after she was reportedly removed from the home of Hindes' ex-wife by child protective services.
Hindes at present is stationed aboard a nuclear submarine in the Pacific, and Kaylee has been living with Hindes’ wife Benita-Lynn Caoile Hindes – her stepmother – in Washington state.
But despite his deployment, Hindes has been ordered by a judge to appear in a Michigan courtroom Monday in a custody battle over Kaylee with his ex-wife — or face contempt, ABC News reported.
More from ABC News:
Hindes’ lawyers argue he should be protected by the Service members Civil Relief Act, which states courts in custody cases may “grant a stay of proceedings for a minimum period of 90 days” to defendants serving their country.
The judge hearing the case, circuit court judge Margaret Noe, disagreed, adding, “If the child is not in the care and custody of the father, the child should be in the care and custody of the mother.”
The sailor is not allowed to appear by Skype or phone, and in custody cases, being absent in court could have a huge effect on the outcome.
Here's an analysis of the legal implications from Fox News:
“I’m just trying my best to keep everything together,” a tearful Caoile Hindes told ABC News. “It’s just hard.”
ABC News could not reach Hindes' ex-wife Angela for comment.