The Columbus Dispatch has endorsed HB 121, a bill to protect military parents’ child custody rights which is modeled in part on AB 2416, which we helped pass in California last year. In their editorial they explain:
The bill would protect military parents from having custody arrangements altered while they are overseas. The law also aims to help deployed parents stay in touch with their children, accommodating visits during leaves and letting a close adult – a grandparent, for example – to fill in for them while away.
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In April, Fathers and Families of Ohio Executive Committee Chairman Donald C. Hubin laid out the case for HB 121 in his op-ed column Custody agreements should survive deployments (Columbus Dispatch, 4/6/11). Hubin explained:
…servicemembers return from serving to find that while they once had a custody arrangement that allowed them to play a meaningful role in their children’s lives, the new custody arrangement allows them only a marginal role. To regain their previous custody arrangement, they must engage in costly, time-consuming litigation, which increases conflict and dissipates much of the time and money that they would otherwise be spending on their children…
The bill would create a rebuttable presumption that when a military parent is deployed, upon his or her return, child custody and visitation orders 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 the case. By reducing unnecessary re-litigation, House Bill 121 eases Ohio’s already overburdened family-law court calendars, leading to savings for the state.
In the past, family courts were allowed to consider active military service as a change in circumstances that allows modifications of custody decrees. House Bill 121 would prohibit this.
The bill recently passed the Ohio House of Representatives.