Bill would protect custody rights of deployed military members

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Military Family Law on Thursday, March 29, 2012.

Virginia military families may be interested in a new bill introduced in the House last week that would protect the child custody rights of deployed military personnel. Often times the courts will use a service member's military deployments against him or her when determining child custody issues, according to a spokesperson for the Ohio State representative who introduced the bill.

The legislation would prevent a judge from considering certain military deployments when deciding on what is in the best interest of the children. It would also require temporary custody agreements established during a service members deployment period revert back to the custody status that existed prior to parent being deployed.

The legislation, which was referred to the Veterans Affairs committee, would be added to the Servicemembers Civil Rights Relief Act passed in 2003. And it would only apply to deployments in which family members do not accompany a service member, such as combat assignments between 60 days and 18 months in duration. The legislation has passed the House six times but keeps getting delayed in the Senate.

Child custody issues can be difficult for even non-military families, however when parents live in separate states, which is common in military families, establishing and enforcing agreements can be even more complicated. An attorney experienced in family law can help parents establish agreements that prioritize the best interests of the children, while also protecting the rights of the military parent.

Source: The Washington Post, "Proposal would protect custody rights during deployments," Timothy R. Smith, Mar. 19, 2012

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