Published: Sun, May 15, 2011 @ 12:04 a.m.
By Marc Kovac
COLUMBUS, Ohio- Enlisted Ohioans would no longer have to face a loss of child custody when deployed for military service, under legislation passed by the Ohio House.
Substitute House Bill 121 would provide court protections for military men and women and ensure contact with their children while on active duty.
“While our men and women are serving our nation, the last thing they should be concerned about is whether they’ll hear from their child,” said Rep. Cliff Rosenberger, a Republican from Clarksville and the bill’s primary sponsor. “Because, after all, their duty is to be over there to protect their families and their citizens and those very children that they love and hold so dear to their heart.”
The legislation passed the Ohio House last week on a unanimous vote and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
Under current state law, courts can consider a parent’s active military service in making decisions about child custody issues.
“Members of our military are being forced to choose between serving our nation and raising a family,” Rosenberger said. “We should all be appalled that this is how we reward our members in our armed forces.”
Under the bill, in divorce proceedings and other cases involving parental rights, courts would not be allowed to make permanent changes to current custody orders based solely on absences due to military service.
Courts could issue temporary orders during military duty, but those orders would cease once the military service ends.
The bill also calls for the custodial parent to facilitate contact with the other parent while on active duty, by the telephone or other electronic device.
And it would require courts to permit parents serving in the military to participate in legal proceedings and present evidence by telephone, video or the Internet.
Rosenberger said he offered the legislation after hearing from constituents who lost custody of their children while serving overseas.
“Absence due to military service should never be the sole basis for a loss of child custody or diminished visitation rights,” he said. “Ohio needs to better balance the responsibilities of military service when considering the best interests of the child.”
This is sorely needed nation-wide. It's really hard for our soldiers to be "over there" while a WAR is going on against their own families here at home. See AFRA "Military Concerns"