A bill protecting the custody rights of deployed service members advances in the State Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill (S-1051), sponsored by State Senator Chris Connors would prohibit courts from basing custody decisions on a service member's deployment status.  It also prohibits a court from modifying custody when a service member is deployed.

A companion measure is sponsored by 9th District Assembly Members Brian Rumpf and Dianne Gove (S-634).

Connors says "Our legislation would also require that the parenting time arrangements that were in effect prior to the service member's deployment resume once they return. Additionally, protections would be put in place to prevent changes in custody orders until at least 90 days after the servicemember returns, unless such action is necessary to protect the child's health or safety."

Two amendments were adopted in Committee to strengthen the legislation. Under the amended bill, New Jersey shall retain exclusive, continuing jurisdiction of child custody cases during the period of the deployment and the 90 days following the day the deployment or treatment ends. Additionally, the bill would preserve all rights and protections servicemembers are afford under federal "Service members Civil Relief Act"

The 9th District Delegation first introduced the measure in September of 2007.