Being in the military can come with its own set of emotional challenges, especially when it comes to deployment. Divorced or single military parents can become apprehensive when faced with a deployment because judges sometimes use the deployments against military parents for child custody purposes. However, Texas servicemen and women may now be able to breathe a sigh of relief if a pending proposal passes through Congress. The planned legislation would prevent family law judges from taking into consideration certain deployments when determining what the best interests of the child are and hopefully alleviate these emotional challenges for service members.

In addition to preventing courts from using a deployment as leverage in a custody case, the legislation will also ensure that pre-deployment custody arrangements are followed upon the return of the service member. If another party was awarded temporary custody as a result of the deployment, the arrangement would revert to pre-deployment status once the service member has returned home.

Rep. Michael Turner introduced this bill, but so far it has not been made law. It has been approved in the House six times since 2008 but has yet to pass the Senate. If this bill is passed, it would be added as a provision to the 2003 Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Texas military personnel who are being deployed would have to meet some qualifications for this proposal. Currently, the language of the legislation states that the military orders would have to be between 60 days and 18 months in length and also prevent other family members from accompanying them.

Military members have many emotional challenges when faced with the prospect of leaving family members behind. Approval of this bill may offer military parents the chance to keep custody of their children instead of allowing a family court to base their parenting ability on something they can’t always control.

Source: The Washington Post, “Proposal would protect custody rights during deployments,” Timothy R. Smith, March 19, 2012