There are many single parents in the military, some of them leaving children behind. The Boston Globe reports on June 6, 2007 that one mom is faced with desertion charges because she refused to report back to duty to finish her second deployment in Iraq while a custody battle is pending.
Lisa Hayes of New Hampshire has asked the court to award her custody of the 7-year-old daughter she left behind with a former husband. When she was unable to reach her daughter at his house in January 2007 and learned that domestic violence charges involving his girlfriend, she obtained an emergency leave. She arrived in New Hampshire in February.
Hayes filed a custody motion and received temporary custody on March 2. However, a formal custody hearing has not yet occurred and may take months. Lisa Hayes' leave was extended several time but ultimately when the army demanded that she return to Iraq, she refused to return to the military. She was declared AWOL on March 25 and a month later was charged with desertion. She turned herself in at Fort Dix, daughter in tow, on June 5. According to an army spokesperson, most such cases are resolved without jail time but with some kind of a discharge.
You may read the entire Boston Globe story here. Battling on 2 fronts, mother charged as AWOL