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Melissa A. Featherston

Child custody legislation change affects military parents

Military parents sacrifice many things in order to fulfill their duty to their country, but that does not mean that they have to sacrifice child custody rights when deployed. Recently, a bill was passed prohibiting service members from being stripped of rights while fulfilling military duties. After many years of pushing the bill through various legal channels, military parents are now assured of their child custody rights.

Missouri parents are aware that custody disputes are complex, especially when one parent will be away due to military deployment. These parents should not face a disadvantage because of their service, but rather should be considered equal to the other parent. The recently passed measure is a federal law, which is important to protect parental rights because most states have different custody laws. 

One military mother came home from her deployment, only to find that the father of her child refused to return the child to her. After a two-year battle, the mother was finally able to restore her custodial rights. Other men and women feared that they could experience the same treatment while deployed. The change in legislation has done much to alleviate those fears. 

Military service should not make a parent less likely to get or keep child custody. A non-custodial parent cannot deny the rights of a custodial parent, even if that individual has been absent for a long period of time due to deployment. Because of this recently passed law, Missouri parents who also serve in the military may have an easier time defending these rights. 

Source: dispatch.com, "Bill OK'd preserving child-custody rights on deployment", Jessica Wehrman, Dec. 13, 2014

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