Dad Survives War But Loses Son in Court

“You want to make a soldier cry, you take his son away,” said Army National Guard Spc. Joe McNeilly of Grand Ledge, Michigan. “It’s devastating.”

Spc. McNeilly provided shared physical custody of his son for five years prior to his deployment, one week on, one week off. Then he was sent to Iraq in January, 2004 for fifteen months. While deployed, McNeilly agreed to give the boys’ mother temporary full custody until he returned from duty. But upon return, the court referee recommended against restoring shared physical custody. Instead, McNeilly’s boy was restricted to every other weekend and a few holidays with his dad.

With reasoning worthy of the Brave New World, Director Don Reisig of the Ingham County Friend of the Court denied that the recommendation had anything to do with McNeilly’s military service. “The fact that he was called up to defend his country makes no difference,” said Reisig. Rather, it was because the mother was the “day-to-day caretaker and decision maker in the child’s life” while McNeilly was overseas.


Based on this incisive thinking, we can conclude that when married fathers return from Iraq, they should have no role in raising their children, since they were absent from day-to-day decision making while deployed.

  1. J.D.

    September 6, 2005 at 8:44 am

    Man….. that is just fucked.

  2. AMG

    September 6, 2005 at 10:21 am

    Wow this is the very thing I fear most ! I am an active father
    I should be able to raise my kids. The good news here, if
    any. If you want your children you must be active. However
    things do happen. Well I can only hope he gets a chance to
    see his kids in the future. –

  3. Mergrl

    September 6, 2005 at 7:34 pm

    that is just a huge crock of crapola, not only was this man serving his country (and no matter what we think about the war we need to support our troops) but he had never given them any reason to deny custody, that is just such crap.

  4. Joseph W. McNeilly, Sr.

    October 5, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks for bring attention to our cause. Please feel free to contact us if there is anything we can do to get
    child custody laws for soldiers changed in your state. Our website is: It’s still in
    the works but has SOME info on it as well as pictures and will soon have streaming video.

    Thanks for the support and God Bless.

    Joseph W. McNeilly, Sr.
    Land of the Free…because of the Brave **==

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