New law protects service members’ parental rights


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Governor Susana Martinez signed what military members call a crucial piece of legislation into law today.

The new law ensures deployed military members will not be fighting custody battles while they’re fighting wars.

An attorney and New Mexico National Guard Member said the new law will make sure that kids will have some kind of contact with their parents who are deployed.

Supporters of the service member child custody act say too often while military members are overseas, ex-spouses make little effort to ensure kids keep in contact with deployed parents.

The new act forces the other parent to make sure the child calls, emails or writes the military member on assignment.

It also allows for a family member or close friend of the deployed parent to step in for visitations, making the new law helpful for parents and their children.

Supporters of the bill say they’ve dealt with hundreds of cases in New Mexico where service members are trying desperately to stay in contact with their kids but are too often cut out of their lives.

The law will also ensure that child-custody arrangements cannot be modified in any way if one parent is currently deployed.

“There’s protections for their finances and there’s are protections for their homes but what was missing was protection for their children,” NM National Guard member Amanda Pagan said. “You get calls from service members who are deployed where it’s devastating to hear that they I got served with custody papers and they’re fighting a war and they’re fighting for their kids.”

Governor Martinez signed the bill into law Saturday at a special ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Supporters say the law has been years in the making.

The bill was passed during the last legislative session and was sponsored by Democratic Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto and Democratic Representative Nathan Cote.

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