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Marriage Went Badly Wrong and Now There's a Custody Battle

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My sister married a man who was in the Army. He managed to make his way up to lieutenant colonel before retiring, and now they live in New York, where he works for a private company.

When he was in the Army, he received a "slap on the wrist" for various reasons, mostly involving adultery. At one point, he and a former congressman's daughter were both on active duty, both married to different people, and carrying on a sexual relationship with each other, as well as with other military members and subordinates.

He also received disciplinary action because another soldier witnessed him receiving oral sex from a female soldier while sitting in his car and he had an affair with another female soldier that led to that woman giving birth to a child.

Two years ago, my sister finally decided to leave him. When she told him she was leaving, he raped her and she got pregnant with their third child. When she found out that she was pregnant again, she decided not to leave him because she didn't think she could afford to have the baby on on her own.

Recently, she found out twice in the same week about affairs he was having with two different women! She was so angry that she hit him on the head with her cell phone. In my opinion, he deserved a hell of a lot more than a smack on the head with a cell phone! But he had HER arrested for assault and malicious wounding for the cell phone incident!

When she returned home after being arrested, he had lingerie laid out on the bed for her to wear. She didn't want to sleep in the same house as him -- much less in the same bed! Because she refused to have sex with him, he cut off her access to all of their money and filed a protection order against HER, saying that he was in fear for his life. A judge granted him temporary custody of the children and denied her visitation.

The oldest of their children is actually my biological son. He is 10 years old now, and my sister adopted him from me and has raised him since he was born because I wasn't in a position to give him what he needed. When she married her husband, he convinced her to allow him to adopt my son without my knowledge.

Her husband has always used his position of power and authority to intimidate others and to cover up his actions. My sister is one of the strongest, sweetest and most thoughtful women that I know. She is a wonderful mother and the children mean everything to her. Before the separation, she was with those children from sun-up to sundown. Now we don't know what to do.

I'm glad that she got away from her husband, but she can't leave the children with him. He is unsuitable as a parent and as a spouse. He is currently seeing other women during this separation, bringing them around the children, taking them on dates with the children, drinking alcohol and driving with the kids in the car.

He makes people think that he's a "poor, single dad with all of these kids" who's going through a divorce. We all have our faults, but this guy should be held to a higher standard of conduct because of his prior position and rank in the military.

What do you suggest? She has had NO support of any kind from the Army and it looks like she isn't going to get any. Can anything be done? Please help our family take the next right step. Any advice that you can give is greatly appreciated.

-- Grace

Dear Grace,

So much has happened in this situation. Everything appears to have gotten worse over the years.

To be honest, I think it is best that your sister is not with this man anymore. Taking your word for everything, it sounds like it was a terrible marriage. I agree with you, your brother-in-law doesn't sound stable.

The only way you and your sister can fight this is with the help of an attorney. If she can't afford an attorney, she should contact the legal aid society in her city. Because of the severity of this case, they should be willing to represent your sister and their services are free.

Regarding the safety of the children, you can always file a report to Child Protective Services in their area if you are concerned about their well-being. You can file this report anonymously and a worker will come to the house to investigate.

Tell your sister to hang in there. I hope you can continue to provide support for each other. I know it's difficult. Please keep in touch.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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