This Memorial Day, we saluted those who made the ultimate sacrifice. But we owe a great deal of gratitude to all those who serve, not just those who are gone.
Perhaps that is what the Legislature was thinking when it enacted Family Code section 3047. Section 3047 says that if you are in the military and do not comply with custody or visitation orders simply because of deployment out of state or other military duty, the other side needs more reasons to change custody and visitation beyond your military service.
The court is allowed to make temporary changes in custody and visitation if you are deployed, but those orders get reviewed if you ask the court to review them once you get back from deployment or other military assignment. Furthermore, the old orders are supposed to go back into place, unless the court determines that going back to the old orders is not in the best interests of the child. And the court cannot make you jump through hoops such as undergoing a psychological exam in order to get your kids back.
There are other protections for military members. The court must consider making special orders to ensure that while the service member is gone, he or she can maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child by means that are reasonably available. And the service member’s spouse, parents, or other family members can get visitation orders under certain circumstances. Also, if there is a hearing that takes place while the service member is gone, the service member may appear by telephone.
Section 3047 was designed, among other reasons to provide a fair, efficient, and expeditious process to resolve child custody and visitation issues at all times surrounding the deployment. As the statute says, “parties who serve in the military [should not be] penalized for their service by a delay in appropriate access to their children”.