By Curtis Roberts.
In May of 2011 the governor of Oklahoma signed into law the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (the “Act”) 43 O.S. § 150.1 et. al. The primary goal of the new Act is to address situations where military servicemembers lose custody of their child(ren) due to military service. The new Act grants new rights and remedies for servicemembers to maintain contact with their children while he/she is deployed or mobilized for their country.
Before the enactment of the new Act, military servicemembers were subject the possibly of losing primary custody of their child(ren) due to their deployment or mobilization. Furthermore, children of non-custodial servicemembers with visitation rights often were cut off from any communications between the child and the non-custodial parent’s family (including siblings, step-parents and grandparents).
The increased frequency of deployments by Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel resulted in the need for a new law to address issues and the troublesome situations our nation’s military members find themselves when they are called to action. The Act seeks to create clarity for all parties when a parent deploys.
Probably the most notably provision of the new Act is § 150.8. Specifically, § 150.8 provides that a servicemember may seek to have some or all of his/her visitation delegated to a “family member or another person with a close and substantial relationship to the child” while deployed or mobilized. However, at the present time it is not clear whether the delegation of visitation will withstand judicial scrutiny.