Recognizing the unmatchable contributions of our nation’s military, the California Legislature enacted a law designed to protect military members’ custody and visitation rights. California Family Code § 3047 provides that most absences and failures to comply with custody and visitation orders due to active military service shall not, by themselves, serve as a basis to modify custody or visitation rights.
The law imposes the following two requirements for a service member to take advantage of its provisions:
- At issue must be the service members’ “absence, relocation, or failure to comply with custody and visitation orders”; and
- “[T]he reason for the absence, relocation, or failure to comply [wa]s the party’s activation to military duty or temporary duty, mobilization in support of combat or other military operation, or military deployment out of state.”
The law also provides special accommodations for deployed military parents, under defined conditions:
- Reasonable visitation rights to a child’s “stepparent, grandparent, or other family member”;
- Expedited hearings;
- The acceptance, from deployed military parents, of electronic evidence; and
- The use of measures to avoid delay in custody and visitation cases.