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Custody Dispute Between Two Sailors Raises Questions

10:49 PM, May 1, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A former sailor said her Navy husband has left her high and dry.

"It's hard to be both parents at the same time," said Dominique Mathis.  

Mathis said she's pretty much a single parent since separating from her husband last May.

Stationed in Virginia, she said he hasn't seen his son since Oct. 2011.

"Looking back, I saw red flags but I was in love," she said.  

The pair met and married while both were enlisted in the Navy in Virginia.

After they separated, she moved back to Jacksonville to raise their son, and he stayed.

"Around November I said, 'Look, things are kind of tight, can you help me?' 'Well, I'll see what I can do.' 'Well, that isn't a sufficient answer when your gross pay is $5,500 a month,'" she said.

As a First Class Petty Officer Mathis said her husband is getting additional money from the Navy for being married and having a child.

But she's not seeing any of it.

She said since their separation, he has only paid her $200 a month, a fraction of the $2,471 a month she's owed.

She's had to rely on the Navy Relief Fund to help pay for basic necessities for her son.

"They gave me a $50 voucher to at least go buy pull ups and keep food in the house," she said.  

Frustrated, she contacted Navy Legal Assistance to get her husband to pay up.

They issued a stern letter to her husband's command, asserting he owed her $24,110 in back pay.

Repercussions for the sailor could be serious.

In the letter, Navy Legal warned his career could be in jeopardy.

He could be denied promotions, re-enlistment, or ultimately let go.

"You would expect more. You really would, from someone that's a service member, and someone that's a former service member, I would expect more," she said.

But that's as far as it goes.

If the Command won't force the sailor to pay, it will take a court order for him to comply.

In the meantime, he gets paid for having a wife at home that he's not supporting.

"What are you going to war for if you're not protecting the people that you're fighting for?" she asked.  

Her husband told First Coast News he's paying all he can afford, and that's all he intends to pay until he gets that court order.



First Coast News

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