updated 6/8/2007 7:33:08 PM ET 2007-06-08T23:33:08

A New Hampshire National Guard soldier charged with desertion while trying to get custody of her 7-year-old daughter could get a hardship discharge from the Army soon — but might not get home in time for a court hearing on custody next week.

Spc. Lisa Hayes, 32, returned to the state on emergency leave from Iraq in late February, after learning police had twice been called to her ex-husband's home for domestic violence. At a court hearing in February, she won temporary primary custody of Brystal.

A guardian was ordered to investigate both homes and make a recommendation about who should have permanent physical custody of the girl. Hayes was granted three brief extensions on her leave, but the Army declared her AWOL on March 25 when she failed to report for duty. Thirty days later, she was charged with desertion.

Hayes applied for a hardship discharge, saying there was no one else available to care for her daughter and the guardian's investigation was not complete. Military lawyers said she could not apply for a discharge while absent without leave.

So Tuesday, she drove to Fort Dix, N.J., with her daughter and surrendered. She is being housed with her daughter on the base and provided free child care.

The state's congressional delegation intervened, asking Army officials to grant her compassionate leave. U.S. Sen. Gregg, a Republican, said Friday that Col. David McNeil told him he planned to grant Hayes a hardship discharge as soon as possible.

Hayes' lawyer said she is anxious to return to New Hampshire as soon as possible, so Brystal can return to school in Dublin.

On Wednesday, Hayes' ex-husband asked a court to give him emergency custody of Brystal, arguing she was missing school and that Fort Dix was not a good environment for her. A hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, Theroux said.

Hayes was serving her second tour in Iraq when police in Dublin, near Rindge in southwestern New Hampshire, told her they had gone twice to the home of her ex-husband, Tim Knight, on domestic violence calls. Knight had primary custody of Brystal.

In November, Knight's mother and his girlfriend, Brenda Brown, got into a fight, Hayes said.

In December, Brown was charged with assault, false imprisonment and criminal trespassing after Knight reported she had hit him in the head with a telephone, knocked him down, duct-taped his wrists together and slammed his head on the floor, according to a police affidavit.

After the court hearing in February, a marital master found that Knight's "use and abuse of alcohol" and stormy relationship with Brown made his home unsuitable for Brystal.

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