Judge orders break in sailor's child custody case
BREMERTON, Wash. -- A Michigan judge has called a time-out in a child custody dispute involving a local sailor aboard a U.S. submarine.
Lenawee County Judge Margaret Noe released an order Sunday, delaying some matters until at least Oct. 22.
The judge cited a federal law that suspends court action when a member of the armed services is away. Noe says she didn't know Matthew Hindes was in the Pacific Ocean until June 16 when he was supposed to appear or have someone bring his 6-year-old daughter Kaylee to court.
"I am very proud of our military," Noe said. "My dad flew in the Navy. My brother served in the Army and the Marines."
The judge also lifted the requirement that Hides' wife, Benita, fly from Bremerton to Michigan and bring Kaylee to court herself and possibly be handed over to Kaylee's birth mother, Angela Hindes. Angela lost custody of her daughter 4-years ago.
"My daughter Kaylee spent a whole week with me, overnight, non restricted in the last week of November, and I had her for Thanksgiving and she was just fine," Angela Hindes told the judge.
The court battle has become a national story in recent weeks, with many coming out in support of Hindes. A state senator from Michigan and a US congressman from Ohio have stepped in to join the fight. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said the Hindes case is an outrage in an issue that he's been championing for years.
He told congress in 2012, "Mr Speaker, we should not have one arm of our government ordering servicemembers to deploy and another arm of our government taking their children away from them based upon the fact that they were away serving their country."
After the ruling, a relieved Benita thanked the people who have supported her and her husband since the story broke.
"It all started with you guys at KOMO," Benita said from the couple's Bremerton home. "And I was completely blessed by you guys doing our story because our main goal is just to keep Kaylee safe."
Noe has been criticized for her handling of the case. She says facts have been sacrificed for "sensational stories."