Petition Closed
Petitioning President of the United States and 61 others

United States Department of Justice: Protect soldiers from being legally sued for child custody while deployed


We are requesting a Federal Law or an amendment to the Service member Civil Relief Act to include a protection for soldiers against been sued for child custody while they are on or about to be deployed on deployment status. to  include the territory of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Service Member Civil Relief Act does not cover any legalese regarding the custody rights of service members. This leaves Soldiers defenseless against situations where the legal guardian or other family member can take advantage of the Soldier being overseas to gain full custody of a child. Many times the Soldier is unaware of the custody case against him or her due to the lack of communication between the two parts. The normal course of action taken by the courts is to assign custody to whichever parent is present at the time of the hearing. To fix this problem, some states have enacted specific laws and regulations to protect service members, but there are still many states that do not provide any kind of protection to those service members currently serving on overseas assignments. This leaves the stability of these families in the hands of individual courts. 146,000 single military parents in 2008 accounting for about 6.6 percentof the total for the total force strength.

The percentage of single military parents was higher in the Reserve Component (8.7 percent) thanin the Active dutyComponent (5.3 percent). Over the past ten years, the number of single parents in theActive duty component has declined, while the number of single parents in the selectedReserve members has increased over the last decade by 60 percent (ODUSD (MC&FP),in press). Though the gender difference is not as evident as the civilian population, asshown in Figure 4, female Service members were at least twice as likely to be single parents, compared with male Service members, in both Active Duty and Reserve components. Of Service members who ever deployed to OEF/OIF, single parents make up 17 percent

The Family Care Plan, a plan put together by the Soldier’s command to ensure the well-being of the child in case of an emergency, is not a court order which means it is not legally binding in civilian court. This means that should a Soldier leave their child with an ex-spouse or family member, the ex can sue for custody regardless of the plan laid out by the soldier and his or her chain of command. In certain cases where joint custody is awarded to both parents, judges will often mandate in the case decision that in the event of a deployment, the child will be left with the remaining spouse. Many soldiers deploy and discover that in their absence, things have changed dramatically. Deployed parents have received legal notices mandating child support increases, changes in custody, and in some cases outright refusal by the custodial parent to allow the returning soldier to see their children. Army-wide statistics are not available on parents losing the custody of their children because the Army does not track these cases. Unless both parents are service members, the military justice system is unable to effectively engage in mediation on behalf of parents who are fighting court battles to regain custody of their kids. As a result, there may be a very high number of parents who lose the custody of their kids in civilian courts. The US Department of Defense does not grant legal representation to soldiers and since redeploying to attend court is up to command discretion many times there is little to no support for these custody battles. Courts should not be able to find soldiers unfit because of the multiple duty station moves and deployments that are a part of any military orders expected of a Soldier.

It is the responsibility of the United States Department of Defense address this issue and find permanent answers to it. To make sure every soldier family is been taking care of before and during every deployment so every soldier can concentrate in performing on the battle ground. That would reduce the number of soldiers suffering from PTSD, desertion, depression, anxiety, and other stressors due to the added trauma that this situation can cause on out troops.

Unfortunately  as a Puertorrican this is my story and unless the federal government create an amendment to the servicemember civil act none of the soldiers from Puerto Rico like many other places in the United States are protected from situations like this. There is only 36 states in the US who have created amendments to their laws to protect soldiers from being permanently separated from their kids while they are on combat zone.  There is bonds and family ties that are permanently broken between the deployed soldier and the kids creating a permanent damage in both and destroying a family that was already established.  Our legal system can’t criminalize the role of our soldiers /parents duty once they go overseas to fight for their country by taking away their kids and permanently marking them with feelings of abandonment.  


There is no Active duty post in Puerto Rico where kids and family members of active duty service members can receive the adequate support once the parent is deployed.  Even medical services are received through Tricare remote in private doctor offices where is inconsistent the method on how the billing and services are performed because they are used to receive patients that are members of the National Guard or Reserve. 

The social services department in Puerto Rico have no base to evaluate military homes and families to give a recommendation to the court houses.  Inside every active duty post there is rules and regulations that categorize military families as a subculture. They move a lot base on military orders, kids are exposed to many languages and cultures, they are segregated on post and there is many other factors that have to be evaluated before a social worker decide to evaluate a military home.  Reality is that this have to be included as part of the law because there is many Puertorrican soldiers who doesn’t have family members in the US and when they move to combat zone they return their kids to the island on temporary custody agreements.  (loco parentis  “family care plan” )  wish the court houses do not obey for lacking of jurisdiction and legality. SOLDIERS ARE UNAWARE OF THIS PARTICULAR ONCE THEY ARE GONE.  That is when the family members take hands and legalize the custody petition with the court houses leaving the soldiers with no rights once he return.

Letter to
President of the United States
Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Ted Cruz
and 59 others
Senator Lindsey Graham
Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Angus King
Senator Joe Donnelly
Senator Mazie Hirono
Senator Saxby Chambliss
Senator Roy Blunt
Comisión de Asuntos de la Mujer y Equidad Maria M. Charbonier Laureano
Periodico Primera Hora Alba Y Muniz Garcia
Periodico Primera Hora Rosita Marrero
Periodista Nuevo Dia Yaritza Santiago
Senator James Inhofe
Senator Deb Fischer
Senator Mark Udall
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
Presidente senado de Puerto Rico HON. EDUARDO BHATIA GAUTIER
Under Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness Jessica L. Wright
Asuntos Federales E Internacionalesy Asuntos del Veterano Luisa Gándara Menéndez
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community, Family Policy Charles E. Milam
Senator Kelly Ayotte
Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Mike Lee
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Representative Buck Mckeon
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Senator Kay Hagan
periodista primera hora Soraida Asad Sánchez
Periodista El Nuevo Dia Mario Alegre Barrios
Miembros Mayoría Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Jose L Baez Rivera
Secretario Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Rafael Hernández Montañez
Vice Presidente Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Angel Matos Garcia
Presidente Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Hon.Eduardo Ferrer Ríos
Senadora distrito II Bayamon HON. MIGDALIA PADILLA ALVELO
Senador distrito II Bayamon HON. CARMELO J. RIOS SANTIAGO
Presidente de la Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Hon. Eduardo Ferrer Ríos
Presidenta Comisión de Asuntos de la Mujer HON. MARIA T. GONZALEZ LOPEZ
Presidente de la Comisión de lo Jurídico, Seguridad y Veteranos, Hon. Miguel Pereira.
Miembros Mayoría Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Brenda López de Arrarás
Miembros MinoriaComisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Luis G. León Rodríguez
Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano / Comisión de lo Jurídico Jose E. Melendez Ortiz
Periodista El Nuevo Dia Benjamín Torres Gotay
Vice Presidente Comisión de lo Jurídico Nelson Torres Yordan
Comisión de Asuntos de la Mujer y Equidad María de Lourdes Ramos Rivera
Secretaria comision Asuntos de la mujer y Equidad Lydia Méndez Silva
vice presidenta Comisión de Asuntos de la Mujer y Equidad Hon. Sonia Pacheco Irigoyen
Miembros Minoria Comisión de lo Jurídico Ricardo J. Llerandi Cruz
Miembros Minoria Comisión de lo Jurídico Luis G. León Rodríguez
Miembros Mayoría Comisión de lo Jurídico Carlos J. Vargas Ferrer
Miembros Mayoría Comisión de lo Jurídico José M. Varela Fernández
Miembros Mayoría Comisión de lo Jurídico Brenda López de Arrarás
secretario Comisión de lo Jurídico Efrain De Jesus Rodriguez
Presidente Comisión de lo Jurídico Luis R. Vega Ramos
Miembros Minoria Comisión de Asuntos Federales E Internacionales y Asuntos del Veterano Gabriel Rodríguez Aguiló
United States Department of Justice
Soldiers should not be sued for child custody cases while they are on or about to be deployed. The Servicemember civil relief act doesn’t address child custody cases. Puerto Rico is leaving his soldiers exposed to situations where the custodian or other family member has taken advantage of the service member being overseas to gain full custody of a child. Many times the service member is unaware of any custody case against him and since the legal standard is to assign the custody of the child to someone, it goes by default to whichever parent is present at the time of the hearing. The US DOD don't give legal representation and going home for court is upon command discretion. Courts should not find soldiers unfit because of the multiple movements of duty stations that comes part of mandatory orders.There is already 36 states who already amend their orders to protect the soldiers and the kids from events like this to happen in the future. The service member Civil Protection Act can protect you from going bankruptcy or loosing your house but it wont protect you from loosing the custody of the kids you are a custodian of. We need to do something and stop criminalizing soldiers for doing their job. We need to stop breaking homes and separating family bonds with futile reasons. Been a soldier is not a crime. Is a job to be proud of. Is the Goverment job to protect the kids that stay behind and make them feel secure that while mom or dad is in combat they are safe without having to permanently break their family bonds.

Joseline Armistead started this petition with a single signature, and now has 752 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.