Protection of military parent and child’s custody rights

Troubling questions can arise regarding child custody in a military family where the parents are not together. If a custodial parent responds to a call to active duty, he or she may not be able to provide for the custodial needs of the child.

The other parent may file a motion to change custody officially after the military parent has left. Such motions have caused longer term disadvantage to the military parent that was not necessary.

Old custody law may be unfair to military parents

As described by USA Today, many state statutes concerning child custody often worked to the detriment of single or divorced military parents. This was so despite the military member’s diligence in fulfilling his or her responsibilities to the children, as well as those to his country.

A deployment or call to active duty could result in destroying the military member’s custodial rights. When a short term or temporary but longer-term adjustment was necessary, the new court order was often not temporary, but permanent.

Michigan law balances custody needs of child and military parent

TheMichigan Child Custody Actseeks to balance the child’s needs for appropriate custody with the duty to also protect active duty military parents in custody proceedings that may clearly otherwise put them at a disadvantage.The MCCA protects military parents from a court entering a final judgment on custody while the military member parent is on active duty. As such, if there is a pending motion for a change in custody during any time a parent is on active duty, the law limits what the court may do.

The court may not enter an unfettered modification order or a new order that changes the child’s custody that was in effect when the military called the parent to active status. Active duty includes that of members of the national guard as well as reserve units.

Although the court cannot issue a final order, it must take measures to meet the needs of the child if they change because of a call to duty. The court continues to use the best-interests-of-the-child standard. It then may temporarily modify custody upon a showing that there is clear and convincing evidence that a temporary order will best serve to protect the best interests of the child.

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