Custodial plans for children of deployed parents advanced

Children of deployed military parents would have custodial plans in place under a bill given first-round approval Feb. 4.

LB219, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Sue Crawford, would adopt the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. The act would provide a legal framework for parents and judges regarding care for children when a military parent is deployed. The bill also would clarify parenting arrangements required when a deployed parent returns.

Crawford said the bill would minimize the amount of disruption in a child’s life when a military parent with custodial responsibilities is deployed. Children in families with deployed parents are at greater risk for depression and substance abuse, Crawford said. Because those behavioral health challenges are magnified when military parents divorce, she said, custodial plans are critical.

“This bill creates a legal framework for establishing a plan to reduce the disruption deployment causes for children in military families,” Crawford said.

LB219 would allow families with deployed parents to create a temporary custodial agreement that specifies how decisions for the child would be made, frequency and duration of contact with parents and nonparents and how the agreement could be changed.

Further, the act would permit courts to grant temporary caretaking authority to parents or nonparents, grant decision-making authority to nonparents and enforce a prior written agreement by the parents regarding custodial responsibility.

Omaha Sen. Bob Krist spoke in favor of the bill, saying he has seen the “devastating consequences” that deployment can have on children and on the parent who is deployed.

A Judiciary Committee amendment, adopted 38-0, changed the definition of “adult” under the act to an individual who is 19 or an emancipated minor. Hastings Sen. Les Seiler, chairperson of the committee, said the amendment would align the act with Nebraska law regarding the age of majority.

Lawmakers advanced the bill to select file on a 37-0 vote.

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