Thousands of military families call Colorado home. Like civilian families, families with one or both parents in the military often become restructured through divorce, remarriage, and sharing of parental responsibilities. These issues can be complicated when a parent in the National Guard or active duty military receives deployment orders that will take them out of Colorado, or out of the United States, for long periods of time.
What happens to a deploying parent's custody and visitation time with his or her child while deployed? Who will make decisions about what is best for the child while a parent may be half way around the world and unable to maintain easy and frequent communication? What happens to a child's relationship with a step-parent and half-siblings when a parent is deployed? Colorado recognized the importance of addressing these unique concerns to protect the parenting rights of our military families and promoting the best interests of military members' children by passing the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act ("Deployed Parents Act") in May, 2013.
Before the Deployed Parents Act, when one parent deployed, the other parent almost always received full physical care and decision-making authority for the child(ren). The change in parenting time based upon the deployment was intended to be temporary, but the statute did not provide much guidance for families in these transitions. The Deployed Parents Act outlines the procedures for modifying custody and visitation on an interim basis, while the deployed parent is gone, and for returning the parenting time to the pre-deployment allocation upon the parent's return.
One of the most positive aspects of the Deployed Parents Act is the recognition of other important relationships in the child's life. Specifically, the Act creates the opportunity for a step-parent or other nonparent with close ties to the child to assume the parenting time and decision-making responsibility of the deploying parent. The provisions in the Act allow for a nonparent, such as a grandparent, to enjoy limited contact with a child whom that nonparent might not otherwise see during the deployment period. The Deployed Parents Act will foster stability and consistency for the child by maintaining the child's regular relationships while one parent is away.
In expanding the statute regarding modification of parental responsibilities based upon military service, Colorado now better protects the parenting rights of our servicemen and women who deploy in service of our country. Cantafio Feldmann Nagel enjoys strong ties to military personnel and their families. We look forward to assisting deploying parents, deploying parents' spouses and ex-spouses, and other loved ones to create interim parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities arrangements to protect all parties' interests.