December 28, 2005
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed legislation that will protect the parental rights of military personnel serving in the Michigan National Guard while they are on active duty.
“The men and women serving in the military and the reserves sacrifice on our behalf every day,” Granholm said. “I am proud to sign legislation that will protect them from having to sacrifice even more for their service.”
The issue of parental rights of military personnel serving overseas gained prominence earlier this year after the story of one mid-Michigan solider received media attention. The soldier, a member of the Michigan National Guard, lost shared custody of his child while serving in Iraq. Friend of the Court papers cited the man’s “abandonment” of the child as a reason for the custody change. Media reports at the time indicated the case was not an isolated problem.
The two bills signed today by Granholm prohibit Michigan courts from changing custody orders or a child’s placement while a parent is on active military duty unless there is convincing evidence that such a change is in the best interests of the child. The bills were given immediate effect.
“Ensuring that children are protected while their parents serve our country is critically important,” Granholm said. “This legislation balances the needs of the child and the rights of the parents in challenging circumstances.”
House Bill 5100 (Public Act 328) was sponsored by Representative Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) and Senate Bill 714 (Public Act 327) was sponsored by Senator Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck).