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Will Custody Issues Block Him From Active Duty?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband is part of the Georgia National Guard. He wants to go on active duty, so he spoke to an Air Force recruiter. She said would call him back once she gets some paperwork for him. Everything seemed OK.

A day ago, we found out my husband’s five-year-old is in foster care. Well, of course, we want to get her out of there and have her live with us.

Now there are court dates and child protection issues, as well as the battle of the parents over custody.

While I think my husband should continue with his plans to go on active duty, he is afraid that if he does the court would use that against his gaining custody of his daughter. 

I feel like they would need to consider the fact that this is his career and that this is how he will support his family. Is it wrong for me to feel this way?

The recruiter is now second-guessing letting him sign up because they could kick him out of the Air Force over the family issue. Is that true?

I was under the impression that the military helps servicemembers in their time of need.


Dear C.C.,

I’ve met at least three people during my military travels who were in the same situation that you are in right now. You are not alone.

As her father, your husband should step up to the plate and try to gain custody. I think being a servicemember would make your husband more credible and stable too, especially if you are willing to support your husband with this effort and love his daughter.

 I think the first thing you should do is find out what social worker is handling your stepdaughter’s case. Call and talk to him/her and let them know you want to take custody of the child.

You will have to be present at the next court date. The social worker/agency will start other paperwork too.

It’s very important for your husband to let the state know he is willing to take custody of his daughter. Just know they will do a paternity test and also question why your husband has not been in the child’s life to this point.

The goal of child welfare agencies is reunification with a parent, ideally, or another family member.

Regarding the recruiter; the truth is that the military can have its pick of people to enlist. Therefore, it may pass on a person who appears to have impending problems or troubles.

If this recruiter has her numbers, she may not enlist your husband. If this is the case, your husband should not let this stop him. He just needs to visit another recruiter, that’s all.

I don’t see why this issue should stop your husband from going on active duty. Let me know how your stepdaughter is doing. I hope she will be OK and that it won’t take long for her to start visiting her father and living with him permanently.

Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki, 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. Her column has appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Ms. Vicki has retired from writing new columns for Although Ms. Vicki is no longer offering new advice on, you can still email military benefits questions to our Questions and Benefits team. Need military spouse career help? Email our Dear Career writers.