State Senator Lisa Baker said introduced a bill that mandates no judge enter an order changing the custody arrangement of a child of a deployed military service person. This custody law came in response to a complaint by grandparents who lived in her senatorial district and were barred from seeing their grandson during their son’s deployment to Iraq.
The separation of children from their parents serving in the military overseas is already a challenging situation. It gets compounded when a child is also separated from the deployed parent’s relatives.
On April 12, Governor Tom Corbett signed the bill into law in Pennsylvania.
Under the new law, a service member who is being deployed abroad may now petition the court for a temporary order to assign custody rights to his or family members while he or she is overseas. This also means that when a service member is deployed, a judge cannot then change the custody arrangement for the child unless it finds it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Importantly, it also allows the the family members of the deployed soldiar to step into the shoes of the serviceman or woman to exercise the same custody rights that their service member, while he or she is away, which provides a shortcut to allow involvement of extended family.
The law also eases the burden of soliders overseas in terms of attending court and conferneces. The new law specifically allows parents serving in the military overseas to testify in court via phone, videoconference or other electronic means if they can’t appear personally in court. This law is designed to recognize the sacrafice of service persons deployed to serve their country.
This is a positive development overall for the interplay between state courts and our troops who are obeying natoinal duties. Kudos to State Senator Lisa Baker and all those who supported this law.