Who has the right to make decisions about a child's guardianship -- a judge or the parent with full custody rights?
by Lisa Fogarty
A military dad who is currently deployed on a submarine in the Pacific Ocean has reportedly been ordered by a judge to turn his 6-year-old daughter, for whom he has custody, over to her mother while he's away -- or else.
Navy submariner Matthew Hindes has been ordered by a judge to attend a mandatory court hearing in Michigan next week or face contempt, even though he's miles away and it's obviously not going to be possible for him to return for a court appearance.
Hindes, who was granted full custody of 6-year-old Kaylee, left her in his current wife's care while he was away and argues that the best place for his child is with her stepmom Benita-lynn Hindes at their home in Washington. Despite the fact that Hindes insists Kaylee was taken away from her biological mom Angela by Child Services for neglect, the court is holding firm that the little girl belongs with her mother while dad is deployed overseas.
Angela Hindes has appealed Child Protective Services' decision to take her child away from her and maintains that she deserves the right to care for Kaylee in Matthew's absence. And Lenawee County Circuit Judge Margaret M.S. Noe agrees with her. Noe has even threatened to enter a bench warrant for Hindes' arrest if he doesn't appear in court.
Benita-lynn says she plans to travel to Michigan with Kaylee to attend the hearing, but she's worried that Kaylee could be taken from her before she has a chance to say a proper "good-bye" to her father.
My emotional side immediately sees the words "child protective services" and thinks: this judge is making the wrong call and Kaylee should absolutely stay with her stepmom. But, let's be fair, we don't have any idea what went on in Angela's home or why Kaylee was really taken away from her. And that isn't the point, is it?
A judge truly believed that Matthew should have full custody over Kaylee and that he should be in charge of making decisions for her. Wouldn't it then make sense to grant that parent the right to decide who should take care of the child while he or she is away?
A parent who is constantly with his child knows his or her needs far better than a judge who is making decisions based on what makes logical sense. There is, of course, something to be said for doing things in a fair and just manner, but in this case, it doesn't add up. Why would you grant custody to the parent who lost custody of her child simply because the parent with full custody is away serving his country -- doing his job? Hindes and all parents who have custody of their children should have the right to make the final call on who has guardianship of their child while they are away.
Who do you think has the right to make decisions about a child's guardianship -- a judge or the parent with full custody rights?
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