Members of the military have an important duty to fulfill and that duty should not be used against them when it comes to their rights as parents. The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act was passed in 2008 to protect military parents’ rights to contact and visitation (when possible) even during periods of deployment.
The Rights Of Military Parents
First and foremost, the Act states that any orders that limit a deploying military parent’s child custody or visitation time must be temporary. Upon completion of deployment, a motion to review or amend the order will take precedence on the court’s docket and a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of filing. Following such a hearing, the orders in place prior to deployment may be reinstated as-is. If the non-military parent believes that the previous order should not be reinstated, the burden will be on that parent to demonstrate why different arrangements are now in the best interests of the child. The act is clear that deployment alone may not permanently limit a parent’s relationship with his or her child.
Further, the Act provides that during the deployment period, the deployed parent will have the opportunity to communicate with his or her child via telephone calls, text messages, emails or video conferences. The Act also allows the court to delegate the deploying parent’s existing parenting time or visitation periods to a stepparent or other family member with whom the child has a strong relationship if it is in the child’s best interests.
The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act provides other protections for military parents as well. If you are a member of the military going through a divorce or involved in ongoing child custody issues, an experienced attorney can help you receive all of the protections available to you under this Act.