FORT LEE, Va. (Nov. 9, 2017) -- In the Commonwealth of Virginia, U.S. military parents (or guardians) – including those in the Coast Guard – deploying pursuant to official orders have increased legal protections before, during and after their deployment as a result of the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act.

The following are key specifications of the VMPEPA:

• Any change to limit the deploying parent’s custodial or visitation rights due to the deployment shall specify in the order that the change is due to the deployment and that the order is temporary.

• The non-deploying parent must provide the court written notice of a change of address and/or telephone number 30 days in advance of such change.

• Upon return from deployment, the military parent may amend the temporary order for custody or visitation by filing a motion with the court. A hearing will be within 30 days of that filing.

• In the absence of any court order for custody, visitation or support of a child of a deploying parent, any petition regarding those issues must include the fact that the parent is deploying to expedite the proceedings. Establishing the parent’s deployment status in the petition helps to ensure the parent will have access to their child and that reasonable support and other orders will be in place to protect the parent-child (or guardian-child) relationship.

• Court orders entered as a result of a temporary order under VMPEPA shall provide that the nondeploying parent shall reasonably accommodate the leave schedule of the deploying parent, the nondeploying parent shall facilitate opportunities for telephonic and e-mail contact with the deploying parent during the deployment, and that the deploying parent must provide timely information regarding his or her leave schedule to the nondeploying parent.

• Deploying parents or guardians may also delegate all or a portion of any existing visitation rights with the child to close family members, which may include a stepparent, upon a court’s finding that such delegation is in the best interests of the minor child.

For more information on this matter, make an appointment with an attorney at the Client Services Office at (804) 765-1500.