This incident raises many questions about women in the military and about soldiers (male and female) who are parents of young children.
Apparently, military parents are required to keep a Family Care Plan on file with the military in the event of overseas deployment. However, that document apparently has no validity in any family court.
Just last week, Illinois passed a new law about this. Note how the final law differs from the bill originally introduced. Apparently California passed a law in 2005.
The NY Times says:
Congressional leaders are negotiating over legislation to strengthen custody rights of service men and women who are deployed overseas; similar bills passed the House and Senate and must be reconciled.The "legislation" is the annual National Defense Authorization Act for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Writing this law each year is the main job of the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and House.
The 2 committees have "marked up" (amended) separate versions of the bill and each committee has published a committee report. The House committee has a strong provision that overrides family courts. The Senate committee provision does nothing about courts, but asks the Pentagon to research the effect of deployment on child custody.