(CN) – A soldier in Alabama should not have lost custody of his children due to his deployment in Iraq, the state Court of Appeals ruled.
William McCullough had primary custody of his children after his divorce from Jennifer McCullough Campbell in 2003.
McCullough was deployed to Iraq in 2008, leaving the children with his parents in Michigan.
Jennifer obtained a court order and drove to Michigan to retrieve the children.
When William returned, the trial court refused to return custody to him, ruling that the children were thriving and that the mother would have more time to spend with them than the father.
The state appeals court reversed the decision, ruling that the trial court did not consider the father’s rights.
“The trial court committed error by absolving the mother of her burden of proving that the positive good brought about by changing custody to her outweighs the disruptive effects of removing the children from the custody of the father,” Judge Terry Moore wrote.
“The trial court impermissibly focused exclusively on the period after the (court) order was entered in determining whether any disruption would, or more precisely did, occur.”