Ortiz Welcomes Passage of Child Custody Bill

Bill safeguards best interests of children in military families
May 13, 2008
Albany – Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is pleased to announce the passage of his bill, A.8722A, in the State Assembly. This bill seeks to amend the domestic relations law regarding child custody cases where one of the parents is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service.

Under the terms of the bill, should a petition seeking to modify a child custody order be filed while a parent is on active military duty, a court is prevented from issuing an order permanently altering a previously made custody judgment. A court may issue a temporary order to change the prior custody order as long as there is clear and convincing evidence that the modification in question is in the best interests of the child. Once the parent returns from military duty, either parent may request a hearing where the court shall evaluate if there has been any change in circumstances to merit amendment or alteration of the custody judgment previously in effect.

Should this bill become law, it will help to prevent a situation where a parent could lose custody of their child because the parent is performing military service.

“I welcome with excitement this great step forward in helping parents in the military protect their family interests. Our service men and women are performing a great service to our country and we should not penalize them by allowing the possibility of them being put into a situation where custody proceedings are begun while they are serving in the armed forces, as has happened already. Moreover, children are deeply affected by the absence of a parent, and so this bill seeks to safeguard their best interests as much as possible. The protection of children should always be paramount, and even more so in cases of family trauma, particularly where a child’s parent has made a choice to serve their country in the military,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz is optimistic that the bill will pass the Senate and become law before the end of the 2008 Session.