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Soldiers to be happy about child custody law changes in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania soldiers likely have a lot of gratitude toward one state senator. This woman was inspired to create a bill ensuring that no judge could change a child custody arrangement whose parent is an active-duty member of the military. She found inspiration when she heard of one set of grandparents not being allowed to see their grandson while their son was serving his country overseas in Iraq.

While it is true that many divorced couples are not very fond of their previous in-laws, should it mean that those in-laws, obviously grandparents and family members of the child, shouldn't be allowed to see the child?

The answer may vary depending on who is asked. However, many feel that the situation -- one parent being in the military, away from home and overseas nowhere near their child -- is difficult enough as it is without the added strain that is caused when the child can't see family members, such as grandparents.

Luckily, for military service members and their families, the state senator has enough inspiration for this bill when introduced that passed onto the governor, who passed and signed the bill on April 12 to create a new law. This will permit a military service member that is being deployed overseas to petition for a temporary reassignment of child custody to his or her relatives. And because deployment can be so sudden, a military service member can testify by phone or other means if they are unable to appear in the courtroom.

Unless there is a real reason -- proof that the child should not be with those relatives -- this child custody order cannot be changed. It is important for military members to understand that this is only a temporary order and does not mean that these arrangements will remain the same upon return. Regardless, this is a great change for soldiers and their children in Pennsylvania.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Child custody law changes for soldiers," Amaris Elliott-Engel, April 30, 2012

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