By CAITLIN McARTHUR
Capital News Service
LANSING – A bill to prevent Michigan military members from losing custody of their children while deployed overseas is a matter of fairness, its legislative sponsors say. “I admit this is a complex issue,” said Rep. Tom Barrett, a Republican from Potterville who introduced the bill last month after a similar bill failed to pass last year. “But I don’t think it’s fair to subject service members to this treatment, and more importantly I don’t think it’s fair to put the child in the middle of it.”
The bill would prevent military service members from losing custody of their children while deployed overseas by allowing a stay of proceedings until their return. It would also prevent judges from considering military status as a factor for altering custody arrangements. Sen. Rick Jones, a Grand Ledge Republican who introduced similar legislation late in the last session, said the bill will ensure Michigan judges comply with the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and provide more protections than that law.