Thursday, February 24, 2011

St. Rep. Rosenberger Pursues Legislation to Protect Custody Rights of Military Personnel

St. Rep. Cliff Rosenberger
COLUMBUS—At a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse, State Representatives Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Jarrod B. Martin (R-Beavercreek) discussed legislation that, when enacted, will help balance the equities involved with child custody and visitation rights in situations that require military service members to be separated from their families for an extended period of time.
Specifically, House Bill 121 states that no permanent orders altering existing custody arrangements should be entered while the custodial parent is unavailable due to military service. The custody order that was in place before the absence of a military parent should be reinstated within a set time upon the return of the military parent, provided that reinstating said custody would not damage the best interests of the child.
“In many cases, state laws do not consider the unique aspects of military service when making custody determinations,” said Rosenberger, who is the primary sponsor of the bill. “This legislation would affirm that an absence due to military service should never be the sole basis for a loss of custody or diminished visitation rights, while also keeping the welfare of the child paramount.”
This bill also allows a service member with visitation rights to petition the court to allow those visitation rights to be delegated to a third party during the service member’s absence due to military service.
“Custody issues often arise from the mobilization of National Guard and military reserve personnel, or the temporary deployment of active-duty service members,” said Martin, who serves as the chairman of the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. “We need to better balance the equities of military service when considering what is best for the child.”
This issue was brought to the representatives’ attention by a constituent of the 86th District who is an advocate for deployed soldiers. This individual brought to Rep. Rosenberger’s attention the custody predicament of Staff Sergeant Chad Crane, who is currently stationed in Iraq and spoke at the press conference via Skype.
“House Bill 121 is monumental and imperative to the mental well being of deployed single soldiers, the mission they provide for this country, and their children,” said SSG Crane. “Not only will House Bill 121 set clear standards in helping the courts handle these situations with fairness, equality, and with the best interest of the minor child in these cases, it will make the daily lives of single deployed soldiers so much better.”
House Bill 121 will be assigned to a House committee, where it will undergo further consideration.