Lawmaker says ‘we should never disrespect the status of service personnel’
OLYMPIA – “It’s just common sense and common decency that deployed military parents and military parents who are under some other service obligation shouldn’t have to worry about their visitation rights with their kids,” emphasized state Rep. John McCoy.
“We should never disrespect the status of service personnel,” McCoy said, “certainly not when they’re serving in a wartime capacity.”
The Tulalip Democrat is prime-sponsoring House Bill 1050, which states that:
“If a parent seeking to establish a temporary or permanent parenting plan or other court order designating residential time or visitation rights is under military temporary duty, deployment, activation, or mobilization orders that involve residing a substantial distance away from the military parent’s residence or otherwise have a material effect on the military parent’s ability to exercise residential time or visitation rights, the parent may request the court to delegate the military parent’s residential time or visitation rights …”
McCoy’s measure will receive a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held in House Hearing Room A on the first floor of the John L. O’Brien Bldg. here on the Capitol Campus.
Terms of the legislation direct that a military parent could ask a court to delegate the parent’s residential time or visitation rights “to a child’s family member, including a stepparent, or another person other than a parent, with a close and substantial relationship to the minor child for the duration of the military parent’s absence, [as long as] delegating residential time or visitation rights is in the child’s best interest.”
State law has resulted in court decisions that are “for the most part indifferent to the rights of military parents,” McCoy said. “But certainly if a dad or mom is away because they’re serving our country in the military, their parental rights should not be compromised.”
The issue hits home particularly hard here in Washington, which of all the states has one of the largest populations of active-duty military personnel.