Governor Schwarzenegger signed CA AB 2416 into law in September, 2010.
Divorced or separated military servicemembers endure painful but preventable family law problems. California AB 2416 helps protect the loving bonds that servicemembers share with their children. Working with Fathers and Families, our supporters wrote then-California Governor Schwarzenegger to urge him to sign the Bill.
Many parents serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, or other distant locales are anguished that custodial parents have impeded or completely eliminated their contact with their children. When the deployed soldier calls his children at the court-specified time, nobody answers. Letters are written, but they never reach the children.
Needless to say, it is extremely difficult for a deployed servicemember to effectively overcome this visitation interference. Given the length and frequency of current deployments, many soldiers lose all contact and sometimes even their relationships with their children, particularly if the children are young.
Other servicemembers return from serving to find that while they once had a custody arrangement which allowed them to play a meaningful role in their children’s lives, a new custody arrangement allows them only a marginal role, if any role at all. To regain their previous custody arrangement they must engage in costly, time-consuming litigation, which increases conflict and consumes much of the time and money that they would otherwise be spending on their children.
AB 2416 authorizes courts to issue orders granting grandparents, stepparents and extended families the ability to exercise a deployed soldier’s normal parenting time. By encouraging courts to issue such orders, we allow children to preserve their loving bonds with their deployed parents, and also protect the important relationships children share with their grandparents, stepparents, and other extended family. AB 2416 will substantially reduce the current problem of deployed servicemembers being unable to enforce visitation/contact orders.
AB 2416 creates a rebuttable presumption that upon a servicemember’s return from deployment, child custody and visitation orders will revert to the original order. This protects the crucial role these parents play in their children’s lives, and helps prevent a military parent from having to re-litigate their case.