Fathers & Families’ Official Letter in Support of AB 2416—Child Custody Reform to Help Parents Who Serve

assemblyman-paul-cookFathers & Families has worked closely with the American Retirees Association, Assemblyman Paul Cook (pictured), and others on California AB 2416, which will be heard in committee on Tuesday, April 6.

At Fathers & Families we receive many letters from divorced or separated military servicemembers with painful but preventable family law problems. AB 2416 will help protect the loving bonds that servicemembers share with their children.

Fathers & Families’ official letter in support of AB 2416 can be seen here, or below.

March 26, 2010

Assemblyman Paul Cook
P.O. Box 942849
Room 5164
Sacramento, CA 94249-0065

Re: AB 2416 Child custody: parent on active military duty.

Position: SUPPORT

Dear Assemblyman Paul Cook:

At Fathers & 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, the 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 dissipates 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.

Moreover, AB 2416 creates a rebuttable presumption that when a military parent is deployed, upon his or her return, 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.

We urge support for AB 2416. Fathers & Families thanks Assemblyman Cook for carrying this very important and timely bill. We urge all members to support this legislation to help servicemembers and their children.

Fathers & Families is a national 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization with offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Boston. Fathers & Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child”s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.

Together with you in the love of our children,
Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families

Cc: Leora Gershenzon, Assembly Judiciary Committee

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