United States Armed Forces Members Get Help With Custody and Visitation

On October 1, 2009, a new law takes effect that will assist Maryland Custody and Visitation Lawyers representing members of the United States Armed Forces who have been deployed.

As a former nuclear submarine officer and member of the Maryland Legislature, I am heartened at the enactment of a new section of Maryland Family Law that will benefit the children of members of the Armed Forces.

The law requires ensuring the facilitation of telephone calls and email contact between the deployed parent and the child.

The purpose of Chapter 672 (HB 422) is to ensure that any order or modification of child custody or visitation should specifically reference the deployment of the service member and give that member certain rights. These include reasonably accommodating the leave schedule of the service member and facilitating telephone and electronic mail between the deployed parent and the child. The order will also required the deployed member to give timely information regarding the member’s leave schedule.

When the deployed parent returns, there is a right to an expedited hearing on custody and visitation provided that the petition is filed within 30 days of the end of the deployment. The court will also grant an expedited hearing if it finds that extenuating circumstances prohibited the filing within 30 days.

Deployment means compliance with military orders to report for combat operations or other active duty service for which the member is required to report unaccompanied by any family member or that is classified by the service as “remote”. It does not cover National Guard or Reserve annual training, inactive duty days or drill weekends.