-- A sailor serving on a submarine is locked in a fight a world away to keep custody of his 6-year-old girl.
Navy submariner Matthew Hindes is stationed on a submarine in the Pacific. But he’s been ordered to appear in a Michigan courtroom Monday in a custody battle with his ex-wife Angela involving their daughter, Kaylee.
Hindes was given permanent custody of Kaylee in 2010, after she was reportedly removed from Angela’s home by child protective services. Kaylee has been living with Hindes’ wife Benita-Lynn – her step-mother – in Washington state while Hindes is deployed aboard a nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean.
Despite Hindes’ assignment, a judge has ordered Hindes to appear in court or face contempt.
Hindes’ lawyers argue he should be protected by the Service members Civil Relief Act, which states courts in custody cases may “grant a stay of proceedings for a minimum period of 90 days” to defendants serving their country.
The judge hearing the case, circuit court judge Margaret Noe, disagreed, adding, “If the child is not in the care and custody of the father, the child should be in the care and custody of the mother.”
The sailor is not allowed to appear by Skype or phone, and in custody cases, being absent in court could have a huge effect on the outcome.
Hindes is not only facing the possibility of losing custody of his daughter, but also the chance to say goodbye, Benita-Lynn Caoile Hindes said.
“I’m just trying my best to keep everything together,” she said. “It’s just hard.”
ABC News could not reach Angela Hindes for comment.