New Law Protects Soldier Parents

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Military moms and dads serving overseas will be protected from losing custody of their children because of their deployment under two laws signed Wednesday by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The new laws prevent a court from changing a child's custody orders or placement while a parent is on active duty unless there is convincing evidence that such a change is in the best interest of the child.

The legislation was developed when Army National Guard Spc. Joe McNeilly of Grand Ledge reported that he lost custody of his son after spending more than a year in Iraq.

McNeilly had shared custody of Joey, his only child, before being deployed in 2004. But his ex-girlfriend, Holly Erb of Mason, had petitioned the court for full custody seven months after McNeilly joined the National Guard in 2003.

He agreed to give Erb temporary full custody until he returned from duty, but a court referee later recommended against restoring custody.

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