Bill Protects Soldiers in Child Custody Cases

A bill has been proposed to protect military members in child custody cases while serving overseas. The proposed bill responds to a Lenawee County judge’s decision to order a sailor to come to court despite him being aboard a U.S. submarine. The legislation would prohibit judges from modifying parenting time if a motion is filed to suspend the case while the military member is away.

Pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, you are provided the protection of a stay of court and administrative proceedings while you are on active duty. You can obtain a stay or postponement of court proceedings if your military service materially affects your ability to proceed in the case. SCRA provides for an automatic stay of ninety days, when you request the protection in writing. Any additional delay beyond the mandatory ninety-day stay period is awarded at the discretion of the judge, magistrate, or hearing officer.

If you are in the divorce process, or if your child’s other parent is attempting to change custody or parenting time, it is important to know your rights. As shown above, it is essential to notify the court in writing if you are away, so that changes cannot take place without your opportunity to appear in court. It is also important to take into consideration your various relocations and absences, when determining an appropriate custody and parenting time agreement.

For more information regarding divorce and child custody issues while in the military, contact Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.