The Legislative Tracker Blog is a forum for our local state Senators and Representatives to provide information about the work they are doing in the 2011 Legislative Session which began on Jan. 10, 2011.
Rights of deployed military parents protected in McCoy’s billJanuary 13th, 2012 at Fri, 13th, 2012 at 11:39 am by scottfrank
OLYMPIA – “It’s just common sense and common decency that deployed military parents and military parents who are under some other service obligation shouldn’t have to worry about their visitation rights with their kids,” emphasized state Rep. John McCoy.
“We should always go above and beyond to respect the parental rights and obligations of service personnel,” McCoy said, “especially when these fathers and mothers are serving during a time of war.”
The Tulalip Democrat is prime-sponsoring House Bill 1050, which:
Allows a military parent to ask the court to delegate the parent’s residential time with a child if the parent’s military orders involve being more than one night away when the parent is scheduled to have time with a child.
And provides that the delegation provision applies when establishing a parenting plan or court order, not just when modifying an existing plan or order.
Terms of the legislation direct that a military parent could ask a court to delegate the parent’s residential time or visitation rights “to a child’s family member, including a stepparent, or another person other than a parent, with a close and substantial relationship to the minor child for the duration of the military parent’s absence, [as long as] delegating residential time or visitation rights is in the child’s best interest.”
State law has resulted in court decisions that are “for the most part indifferent to the rights of military parents,” McCoy said. “But certainly if a dad or mom is away because they’re serving our country in the military, their parental rights should not be compromised.”
The issue hits home particularly hard here in Washington, which of all the states has one of the largest populations of active-duty military personnel.
McCoy’s measure passed the House of Representatives unanimously last year, but time ran out on the 2011 session before the measure could clear the Senate. The bill is now awaiting the scheduling of 2012 floor action in the House, and McCoy said he’s optimistic that it will make it all the way through the process this year.