Bill would protect veterans' parenting rights while deployed (release)
Rep. Willis is a co-sponsor of HB 5395, “An Act Concerning Custody Orders For Deployed Members of the Armed Forces.” The bill raised by the committee for legislative action seeks to protect the best interests of minor children of members of the armed services by minimizing the disruption caused by deployment.
Rep. Willis told the committee that mobilization and deployment of members of the armed forces is very stressful and disruptive to their families and the last thing the service member needs is the added anxiety of someone trying to take custody of their child or children from them while they are on active duty.
Rep. Willis pointed out that the plight of a female army sergeant deployed in Iraq was brought to her attention when at the time of her deployment a temporary order was entered allowing the service woman’s child to be in the care of her father.
“Unfortunately, the father took the opportunity to use her deployment as a basis to modify custody of their five year old child,” Rep. Willis said. “Many states have prohibited a non-deployed person from using the fact of deployment as a basis of custody modification. Connecticut is not among them.”
Rep. Willis explained that the central element of the legislation is to insure that a court cannot enter into a final order modifying parental rights due to deployment.
“The courts can order a temporary modification, if necessary,” Rep. Willis said. “Upon their return, a deployed parent may then apply to change the order.”
“As America’s military commitments in Afghanistan and around the world persist, it is important we address the family issues which military parents face,” Rep. Willis said.
The legislation calls for as much contact as possible between children and the parent who is absent while on military duty by providing contact by phone or e-mail.