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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Congress okays bill to protect child custody rights re deployment

In a by-gone era, the fathers went into the military and the mothers tended to the house and children. However, those days are gone as now either parent is just as likely to enter the different branches of service. Until recently, this choice may have come at a terrible price for some parents who were denied child custody on the basis of their military deployments. Many parents throughout Georgia and the rest of the country possibly lost custody due to their deployment status.

Congress just recently passed a bill that would no longer allow parents to be at risk for losing custody after deployment. The bill was first introduced in 2007 and has been presented yearly for approval. The major sponsor of the bill has tried for the past seven years to get the rest of Congress to throw support behind the bill.

The bill has been incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act. One reason for the delay in passage was attributed to congressional members misinterpreting the bill’s intention as many purportedly worried that such a law would give an unfair advantage to service personnel in custody matters. However,  Representative Mike Turner, who wrote the bill, and the Chairman of the House Armed Services, Buck McKeon, worked together to get the measure through in order to level the playing field for parents who serve their country.

The bill now awaits the signature of President Obama, which is expected. The measure was born out of the experience of one mother who was denied custody of her child when she returned from her deployment with the National Guard in 2004. Two years later, she did regain child custody and she offered testimony in support of the bill multiple times. The bill is intended to protect a deployed parent’s custody rights so that those who serve are not penalized by losing court-ordered custody. Georgia families have access to multiple professional resources who can provide guidance and assistance when questions of child custody cannot be resolved peacefully between parents.

Source:, “Bill OK’d preserving child-custody rights on deployment”, Jessica Wehrman, Dec. 13, 2014