United States military men and women serve the country to protect our best interests, so why shouldn’t our government work to prevent their best interests while they are risking their lives? That is what certain lawmakers are asking in regards to family law decisions made based on service members’ demanding military careers.
It’s been an ongoing dilemma. Family law courts make child custody decisions based on a military parent’s service-related absence. Some government officials, including Defense Secretary Ray LaHood, argue that such decisions are dangerous to parental rights and children’s best interests.
According to reports, there has been a push for federal legislation that would protect service members’ parental rights, but a federal measure has previously been met with great resistance. Lawmakers believed that states better handle family law matters independently.
Advocates for federal legislation, however, point out how many military members go from state to state for work, making relying on state laws seem illogical and inefficient. Some, but not all, states have laws in place to prevent service members’ parental rights. Stars and Stripes reports that only 16 states have protective laws that live up to the Department of Defense’s requests.
The most recent development related to this issue is that the Pentagon is now behind the goal of better serving the best interests of our military parents and families. LaHood reportedly promises that he plans on working with congress to come up with the new legislation.
We will keep you updated when progress toward that goal is made.
Stars and Stripes: “Pentagon to support bill to protect troops’ child custody rights,” Charlie Reed, 17 Feb. 2011