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H.R. 4201 (112th): Servicemember Family Protection Act

The text of the bill below is as of May 30, 2012 (Passed the House).



2d Session

H. R. 4201



To amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are members of the Armed Forces.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Servicemember Family Protection Act.


Protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are members of the Armed Forces


Child custody protection

Title II of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. App. 521 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:


Child custody protection


Restriction on temporary custody order

If a court renders a temporary order for custodial responsibility for a child based solely on a deployment or anticipated deployment of a parent who is a servicemember, then the court shall require that upon the return of the servicemember from deployment, the custody order that was in effect immediately preceding the temporary order shall be reinstated, unless the court finds that such a reinstatement is not in the best interest of the child, except that any such finding shall be subject to subsection (b).


Exclusion of Military Service from Determination of Child’s Best Interest

If a motion or a petition is filed seeking a permanent order to modify the custody of the child of a servicemember, no court may consider the absence of the servicemember by reason of deployment, or the possibility of deployment, in determining the best interest of the child.


No federal right of action

Nothing in this section shall create a Federal right of action.



In any case where State law applicable to a child custody proceeding involving a temporary order as contemplated in this section provides a higher standard of protection to the rights of the parent who is a deploying servicemember than the rights provided under this section with respect to such temporary order, the appropriate court shall apply the higher State standard.


Deployment Defined

In this section, the term deployment means the movement or mobilization of a servicemember for a period of longer than 60 days and not longer than 18 months pursuant to temporary or permanent official orders—


that are designated as unaccompanied;


for which dependent travel is not authorized; or


that otherwise do not permit the movement of family members to that location.



Clerical amendment

The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by adding at the end of the items relating to title II the following new item:

208. Child custody protection.


Passed the House of Representatives May 30, 2012.

Karen L. Haas,