Baker Bill to Help Soldiers with Custody Changes Signed Into
HARRISBURG – A bill to allow military parents to change their custody
arrangements more easily before they are deployed was signed into law by
Governor Tom Corbett today, according to Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), who
sponsored the measure.
"This bill was inspired by grandparents who were prevented from seeing their
grandchild when their son was deployed to Iraq," she said. "A military
separation can compound the heartache of a marital separation. This legislation
will ease the difficult process of assigning temporary custody when a military
parent must leave a child behind to serve our nation."
The enactment of this law is a priority of the state Department of Military
and Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense.
"It is difficult enough for a child to say goodbye to a parent who is leaving
for combat," Baker said. "Current law should not add to that difficulty by
preventing children from seeing their grandparents or other loving family
members, or by preventing soldiers from transferring their custody rights to a
trusted relative. At all times, the best interest of the child remains
A new section allows military parents to testify by phone, internet,
videoconference, or other electronic means if they cannot appear in person in a
courtroom due to a deployment.
During the legislative process, the bill was amended to clarify when a mental
health evaluation must be conducted for parents who have prior criminal
convictions and who are seeking custody.
"Our military personnel willingly face great dangers in the name of freedom.
One way we can support them here at home is to cut through some of the red tape
arising from deployment and custody issues," Baker stated.