Columbus - 
State Senator Frank LaRose (R- Akron) announced that the Ohio Senate voted Wednesday to approve House Bill 121, legislation that addresses special custody concerns impacting Ohio's military families. Senator LaRose sponsored companion legislation in the Senate. House Bill 121 gives military parents the option of participating in child custody and visitation rights proceedings via electronic means, such as video conferencing or over the telephone. It also prohibits a parent's absence due to past, present or possible future military service from being the sole determining factor in awarding custody. "Those Ohioans in the military make significant sacrifices while serving their country, which can be particularly difficult on their families and loved ones," LaRose said. "The changes made by House Bill 121 will help alleviate the burden custody and visitation decisions can have on a parent who is called to active duty and ensure that their relationship with their child is interrupted as little as possible." In addition, House Bill 121 allows a parent with visitation rights who is called to active duty to delegate their visitation rights to a relative or to another person with a close and substantial relationship with the child and requires the other parent to facilitate contact between the parent and child while the parent is on active military service. The Senate included an emergency clause in their version of the bill in order to ensure that the bill's protections will be available to members of the Ohio National Guard who will be mobilized in the summer and fall. The bill now moves back to the Ohio House, where members must agree to the changes made by the Senate. The bill would then become effective Ohio law immediately upon being signed by the governor.
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“Those of us who served made a lifelong commitment when we raised our hand to take the oath. These great Ohioans have continued to serve our nation, state, community and our fellow citizens long after their time in uniform was done," said Senator LaRose. “I was honored to be a part of this ceremony.”


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