Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to Sign California AB 2416—Child Custody Reform to Help Parents Who Serve!

Short version: At Fathers and Families we receive many letters from divorced or separated military servicemembers with painful but preventable family law problems. California AB 2416 will help protect the loving bonds that servicemembers share with their children–to write a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to sign AB 2416, clickhere. Please send your letter whether you are a California resident or not. Your letter will be hand-delivered to the Governor”s office by our Sacramento legislative representative. You may use our form letter or write your own. Senator Denise Morena Ducheny (D-San Diego) Full version: At Fathers and Families we receive many letters from divorced or separated military
servicemembers with painful but preventable family law problems. Many parents serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other distant locales are anguished that custodial parents have impeded or completely eliminated their contact with their children. When the deployed soldier calls his children at the court-specified time, nobody answers. Letters are written, but they never reach the children. Needless to say, it is extremely difficult for a deployed servicemember to effectively overcome this visitation interference. Given the length and frequency of current deployments, many soldiers lose all contact and sometimes even their relationships with their children, particularly if the children are young. Other servicemembers return from serving to find that while they once had a custody arrangement which allowed them to play a meaningful role in their children”s lives, a new custody arrangement allows them only a marginal role, if any role at all. To regain their previous custody arrangement they must engage in costly, time-consuming litigation, which increases conflict and consumes much of the time and money that they would otherwise be spending on their children. AB 2416 will address these problems in several ways:

AB 2416 authorizes courts to issue orders granting grandparents, stepparents and extended families the ability to exercise a deployed soldier”s normal parenting time. By encouraging courts to issue such orders, we allow children to preserve their loving bonds with their deployed parents, and also protect the important relationships children share with their grandparents, stepparents, and other extended family. AB 2416 will substantially reduce the current problem of deployed servicemembers being unable to enforce visitation/contact orders. AB 2416 creates a rebuttable presumption that upon a servicemember’s return from deployment, child custody and visitation orders will revert to the original order. This protects the crucial role these parents play in their children”s lives, and helps prevent a military parent from having to re-litigate their case.

To send a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to sign AB 2416, clickhere. Please send your letter whether you are a California resident or not. Your letter will be hand-delivered to the Governor”s office by our Sacramento legislative representative. You may use our form letter or write your own. Fathers and Families and its legislative representative Michael Robinson have been at the forefront of this issue, successfully working to pass military parent legislation in dozens of states. In 2003, Fathers and Families publicized the heartbreaking case of Lt. Gary S., a San Diego-based US Navy SEAL who had his child permanently moved from California to the Middle East against his will while he was deployed in Afghanistan after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The first success on this issue occurred in 2005 under Robinson”s leadership with the passage of California SB 1082. SB 1082 addressed the way parents who serve are often taken advantage of in custody and family law matters while they are deployed, and helped resolve the child support nightmare many mobilized reservists face. Fathers and Families organized a campaign in support of the bill, and the Senate Judiciary Committee analysis of SB 1082 made specific note of your calls and letters. The bill was sponsored by Senators Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego) and Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside). According to Robinson, Senator Morrow was first inspired to take up this cause after Morrow read our column The Betrayal of the Military Parent (Los Angeles Daily News, 5/4/03) about Gary S. Robinson has since worked with legislators and staffers in dozens of other states on military parent legislation, and many states have passed bills modeled in part on SB 1082. There are now 36 states which have passed military parent child custody legislation, including Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, Michigan, Colorado, and numerous others. Four other states have legislation pending, including Massachusetts and California. To see a chart of the progress on military parent legislation, click here. Fathers and Families has worked closely with Assemblyman Paul Cook, the American Retirees Association, and others on AB 2416, which has passed both the Assembly and the Senate and recently arrived on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger”s desk. Senator Denise Ducheny, who originally championed SB 1082, recently assisted Assemblyman Cook with AB 2416 on the Senate floor to help assure its passage. America was greatly moved by 6-year-old John Hawes’ tearful reunion with his deployed father Bill, and little Siri Jordan”s reunion with her divorced father Dan Jordan. AB 2416 will help protect precious relationships like these. Fathers and Families” legislative representative Michael Robinson and assistant legislative representative Nicole Silverman have spent months lobbying legislators and gathering support for AB 2416.  F & F is creating real, tangible family court reform today, but our deep, professional involvement in Sacramento requires money–contribute to the organization which fights for you by clicking here. Together with you in the love of our children, Glenn Sacks, MA Executive Director, Fathers and Families Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S. Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers and Families

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