The Iowa House has passed a bill that would help divorced soldiers who’re called to active duty and who share custody of their kids with the other parent. Representative Jeremy Taylor says if the bill becomes law, a soldier who has had joint physical custody of their children will be able to designate a relative to step in and provide the day-to-day care of the kids during the deployment.
“Hopefully this will help in an imperfect world with two situations that are never good: war and separation or divorce,” Taylor says. “This is something that we can do, maybe, to help those children and those deployed soldiers a little bit.” A relatively-recent change in state law allows soldiers who have visitation rights turn that time with their kids over to a relative while they’re away on active duty, but this bill goes a step further in dealing with the rights of soldiers who share day-to-day custody of their kids.
Representative Taylor, a Republican from Sioux City, serves in a Council Bluffs-based Iowa National Guard unit and he knows soldiers who share custody of their kids with an ex-spouse or ex-lover. In those instances, this bill would allow that time with the kids to be turned over to a relative when the soldier goes away on active duty.
“And so this is, hopefully, going to give some immediate relief to those individuals who want to have a connection to their children through their immediate family members,” Taylor says. “And it’s really in the best interests of those children.” Under the rules written in the bill, a soldier with joint-custody of their kids would have file a petition with the court before he or she is deployed, specifying which relative they want to care for the kids in their absence.
A judge would then be required to determine if the proposed arrangement is in the best interest of the child — and would be required to ensure the relative stepping in to provide care has no history of sex crimes or physically abusive behavior.