Baker Bill to Help Soldiers with Custody Changes Signed Into Law

HARRISBURG – A bill to allow military parents to change their custody arrangements more easily before they are deployed was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett today, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), who sponsored the measure.

“This bill was inspired by grandparents who were prevented from seeing their grandchild when their son was deployed to Iraq,” she said. “A military separation can compound the heartache of a marital separation. This legislation will ease the difficult process of assigning temporary custody when a military parent must leave a child behind to serve our nation.”

The enactment of this law is a priority of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“It is difficult enough for a child to say goodbye to a parent who is leaving for combat,” Baker said. “Current law should not add to that difficulty by preventing children from seeing their grandparents or other loving family members, or by preventing soldiers from transferring their custody rights to a trusted relative. At all times, the best interest of the child remains paramount.”

A new section allows military parents to testify by phone, internet, videoconference, or other electronic means if they cannot appear in person in a courtroom due to a deployment.

During the legislative process, the bill was amended to clarify when a mental health evaluation must be conducted for parents who have prior criminal convictions and who are seeking custody.

“Our military personnel willingly face great dangers in the name of freedom. One way we can support them here at home is to cut through some of the red tape arising from deployment and custody issues,” Baker stated.

Contact: Jennifer Wilson
(570) 675-3931

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