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Understanding the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act

Child custody issues can become complicated if one parent is serving in the military. Fortunately, the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act provides legal protection to members of the military in child custody issues.

In many cases, military enlisted personnel or officers are unable to actively parent because they are deployed in the service of the country. When this happens, parents who are under child custody order may find their carefully crafted custody or visitation plans thrown into turmoil. The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act is designed to help protect the service person's parenting rights while they are deployed.

For example, it provides that courts can set up a temporary custody order for the non-custodial parent that will end when the other parent's deployment is over. Deployed parents may also delegate their visitation or custody rights to a family member, if approved by the court. So, for example, a deployed parent who has remarried may temporarily assign his or her visitation or custody rights to the child's stepparent. In another example, a deployed parent who cannot visit a child could temporarily delegate visitation rights to his or her sister, the child's aunt. The delegation of these rights is temporary and do not create a separate visitation right for the relative.

When the parent returns from deployment, he or she can request a new hearing with the family court to amend or review the custody order. This hearing must be scheduled within 30 days of the motion requesting the hearing, so that the parent can return to a more regular parenting schedule as soon as possible.

Source:, "Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act," Accessed on Sept. 19, 2014

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