Proposed bill would help military members in child custody disputes

In a military divorce, much like any divorce in the civilian world, child custody can be a significant issue. Determining with which parent a child should live is an emotional issue for many families. This emotional stress can be increased in a military divorce where the service member has a possibility of deployment.

California military members considering a divorce may be interested to learn about a new law proposed in Congress that could affect child custody decisions in military divorce litigation. In many states, courts take into account the possibility of deployment when considering child custody for military members. A court's decision could be influenced heavily in circumstances where the service member is scheduled to deploy.

The new bill would limit the ability of a judge to make permanent changes to child custody in military divorce matters when the service member is deployed. A change in the custody status of a child could only occur of there was definitive evidence that the change was in the best interests of the child. This could help to protect the interests of military members while they are overseas.

Though this legislation has been proposed in the past, officials are optimistic of its passage in 2013's defense policy legislation. Reports note that all 63 members of the House Armed Services Committee recently offered their support to the proposal. If passed, the new federal law would be applied in all states. If a California service member finds that his or her child custody situation is in question due to military deployment issues, he or she may do well to review all applicable laws that apply to the specific circumstances.

Source: ArmyTimes.com, "Bill would strengthen child custody protections," Rick Maze, April 2, 2012

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