The New Jersey State Bar Association and the Assembly Judiciary Committee are recommending the passage of a bill that would protect military parents from losing custody of their children during lengthy deployments. The bill, S-1051, has been approved by several entities, including the state Senate, and New Jersey family lawyers hope that its passage will help strengthen military families and protect the rights of service men and women.
If S-1051 is passed, prolonged or expected absences of military parents will no longer be factored into legal decisions about custody and parental rights. These absences will cover any 30-day period or more where an active service member is called to duty for “combat or other operations, training duty, attendance at a military service school or service-related treatments due to injury, illness or other health condition,” according to the bill. Legal decisions about custody arrangements will be expedited as much as possible in the courts, especially if the military parent has received official notice of deployment or service assignment.
Young military families know that a deployment can separate families for many long months. When young children are involved, the spouse left at home may try to obtain sole custody while the other parent is away on military business. Under S-1051, a military parent will be required to give notice as soon as he or she receives written orders of deployment, and the family must make alternate custody agreements for the duration of any prolonged absence.
The new bill also outlines measures to preserve existing custody or parenting agreements during the time of deployment. S-1051 would prohibit judges from amending or making provisions to any custody agreements until 90 days after a military member returns from an extended absence. Changes can be made during deployment only in the best interests of the child, and once an active duty member has returned, the bill prohibits any changes—even those made in best interest—until the 90-day period has passed.
The New Jersey family lawyers at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman want to protect the rights of military parents during their times of service, and make sure that these men and women have access to their families when they return home. If you have active military deployment orders, or need to leave your children for an extended period of time, contact one of our experienced New Jersey family attorneys today to ensure that your parental rights are protected.