Congressman Michael R. Turner announced his amendment to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect the child custody rights of deployed military service personnel today passed the House of Representatives by a 389 to 22 vote.
Congressman Michael R. Turner announced his amendment to the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect the child custody rights of deployed military service personnel today passed the House of Representatives by a 389 to 22 vote. This amendment has previously passed the House three times.
“For two years, I have offered amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act to address the custody rights of our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Although my amendments were included in the House versions of the FY 2008 and FY 2009 defense bills, each time they were opposed by the Defense Department. My new amendment ensures custody rights while also recognizing the jurisdiction of state courts in custody cases and the ability for states to provide stricter protections.”
Rep. Turner’s amendment would ensure that:
- No court may permanently alter an existing custody agreement while a military parent is deployed.
- A court may issue a temporary order if it’s in the best interest of the child.
- Upon the return of the service member from deployment, any temporary change in custody shall be immediately reversed, unless the change is not in the best interest of the child.
- Allows states to adopt stricter protections for parents, and upholds state jurisdiction over custody matters.
The issue of judges using military service and deployment of parents as grounds to change their custody arrangements first came to Congressman Turner’s attention in the 2004 case of Kentucky National Guard Lt. Eva Slusher who lost custody of her daughter after her deployment. After a two-year, $25,000 battle to regain custody, Lt. Slusher was ultimately successful in regaining custody of her daughter. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident and efforts to ensure military personnel are not disadvantaged due to their service are on-going.
“No parent, courageous and honorable enough to volunteer to serve in the U.S. military, should have their time spent overseas in defense of our nation used against them in their custody disputes. I have offered this new amendment to strengthen custody rights of military personnel and to clarify the role of state courts in these cases. I am committed to pursuing this issue as long as necessary to ensure that the custodial rights of our military are safeguarded,” Rep. Turner added.
H.R. 2647, the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Bill, passed the House of Representatives Thursday afternoon. The bill must be reconciled with the Senate version before it can be sent to the President for his signature.