Few Americans would argue that military servicemen and women should automatically be denied custody of their children because they are deployed overseas. But it must also be said that raising a child when you're halfway around the world is a challenging prospect, to say the least.
It's a difficult situation with few clear solutions. One controversial federal bill introduced on Jan.19 would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act by prohibiting a court from "modifying or amending any previous judgment or order" relating to child custody, as detailed by GovTrack.
In other words, it seeks to protect deployed military servicemembers from losing custody of their children.
But the American Bar Association has publicly opposed the bill, according to the Army Times. Patricia E. Apy of the ABA gave a four-point testimony to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs regarding the ABA's opposition to the bill, including the consideration of what is in the child's best interests:
"Congress would be taking action in an area against expert advice as to foreseeable negative consequences to military parents and their children."
Not surprisingly, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America support the bill. Justin Brown of VFW explained the organization's position on the proposed piece of legislation, as quoted by Army Times:
"We should not allow our government to then punish service members in judicial custody disputes."
It's a difficult and highly emotional issue. No one wants to punish parents for serving in the military, but is it in a child's best interests to be placed in the custody of a soldier who is deployed to Iraq for six months or longer?
On the other hand, should the other parent be considered the best option for the child simply by default?