Michigan lawmakers tackling the child custody rights of active duty servicemen

Aug 14, 2014

Michigan soldiers and sailors may soon have new protections in child custody cases.

“This is common sense,” says State Senator Rick Jones, “When men and women are serving our country, they need to know they are not going to lose their rights while they are serving.”
“This is common sense,” says State Senator Rick Jones, “When men and women are serving our country, they need to know they are not going to lose their rights while they are serving.”
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the state Senate Judiciary committee approved SB 1015.   The bill would amend Michigan’s Child Custody Act to allow active duty servicemen and women to seek a stay of child custody proceedings.   Judges would not be allowed to modify a child custody order if a parent is deployed overseas with the U.S. military.  The legislation would allow an exemption if it was in the best interest of the child.

The bill is similar to the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which is a federal law that protects soldiers and sailors in civil cases when they are on active duty. 

“This is common sense,” says State Senator Rick Jones, “When men and women are serving our country, they need to know they are not going to lose their rights while they are serving.”

Jones says his bill was inspired by the recent case of a Michigan sailor deployed on a submarine.   

A Michigan judge issued an arrest warrant for the sailor after he failed to appear at a child custody hearing. 

The court date has been delayed until October, after the sailor returns from his deployment.