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A deployed sailor can breathe a bit easier, now that his child-custody hearing has been delayed until October.
Navy service member Matthew Hindes was ordered last week by a Michigan judge to appear in person in her courtroom for a hearing about custody of his 6-year-old daughter Kaylee. Though Hindes is currently deployed in the Pacific Ocean, he was threatened with contempt of court.
Hindes' situation drew more than 12,500 online signatures protesting the court's actions, which may have had something to do with the hearing being rescheduled, reports The Detroit News. So what exactly happened in this sailor's custody case?
SCRA Delay Granted, Finally
As we explained last week, Hindes was ordered by Judge Margaret Noe to appear in her Michigan family court by Monday, despite the fact that the sailor is on a submarine in an undisclosed location in the Pacific. Hindes' lawyers had argued that under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the active-duty Navy sailor should be given at least 90 days to put the case on hold.
Despite initially denying Hindes the right to appear remotely, Judge Noe cited the SCRA as a reason for delaying the hearing until at least October 22 -- 90 days from Hindes' Monday hearing. Hindes' lawyer was confused why the hearing hadn't already been postponed, since letters explaining his overseas service aboard the U.S.S. Michigan had been filed with the court by June 13 at the latest.
The Detroit Free Press reports that despite these filings, Judge Noe maintains she was unaware Hindes was in the Pacific Ocean prior to making her rulings. Noe claims the facts of the case have been offered up in exchange for "sensational stories."
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Custody Still an Active Issue
With a temporary reprieve granted for the deployed soldier, his legal team can regroup and consider his October custody hearing.
However, Judge Noe would not reschedule the issue of a temporary visitation modification by Kaylee's mother, Hindes' ex-wife, which was presumably heard on Monday. Citing the best interests of the child, Judge Noe agreed to hear this issue of allowing her mother more "parenting time" on Monday, reports The Daily Telegram of Adrian, Michigan.
October's hearing is set to determine whether Hindes will retain full custody of Kaylee, and it will focus on what is in Kaylee's best interests. The Free Press reports that Hindes' ex-wife Angela lost custody of Kaylee in 2010 over child abuse allegations, which will certainly come to light in this October hearing.