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[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]


112th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     112-488
======================================================================
 
                  SERVICEMEMBER FAMILY PROTECTION ACT

                                _______
                                

  May 18, 2012.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Miller of Florida, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following


                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 4201]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (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, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Committee Consideration..........................................     2
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     3
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     3
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     3
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     3
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     3
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     4
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     4
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     4
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     5

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 4201 was introduced on March 16, 2012, by 
Representative Michael R. Turner of Ohio. H.R. 4201 amends the 
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to provide for the 
protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are 
members of the Armed Forces.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    As our nation's servicemembers continue to endure 
deployments overseas, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 
(SCRA) and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment 
Rights Act continue to protect their interests at home. Both 
Acts endeavor to ensure veterans and servicemembers' employment 
rights and civilian obligations are not affected by their 
commitment to the security of the United States. At its core, 
SCRA ensures that servicemembers have certain protections in 
the event that military service impedes their ability to meet 
certain financial and legal obligations.
    With respect to one such legal obligation, the Committee is 
aware of the often difficult decisions facing courts regarding 
child custody when one or both parents may be a servicemember 
deployed abroad. Although the current SCRA covers everything 
from mortgages to cell phone contracts, it fails to provide one 
uniform framework for protecting servicemembers' rights under 
child custody actions by state courts.
    H.R. 4201 would protect these rights by amending the SCRA 
to require that if a court renders a temporary order for 
custodial responsibility for a child of a servicemember to 
another party because of a servicemembers' deployment, the 
custody order immediately preceding the temporary order shall 
be reinstated upon the return of the servicemember unless the 
court determines that such a move would not be in the best 
interest of a child. The bill would also prohibit courts from 
considering the absence or potential absence of a servicemember 
from being considered as part of the court's determination of 
the child's best interest. Finally, the bill ensures that if 
higher protections than that provided for in H.R. 4201 exist 
under any state law, then the higher standard shall be applied.
    In previous Congresses, the Committee received anecdotal 
evidence of servicemembers having to make the difficult 
decision of choosing between their military career and the 
legal custody of their children because of rulings made by 
courts that took their military service into account when 
assigning custody of the child. The Committee believes that 
servicemembers should never have to make this choice.
    In a February 15, 2011, letter to Representative Michael 
Turner of Ohio, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provided 
support for legislation that is appropriately crafted, ``[t]hat 
provides Servicemembers with a federal uniform standard of 
protection in cases where it is established that military 
service is the sole factor involved in a child custody decision 
involving a Service member.'' The Committee believes that H.R. 
4201 is appropriately crafted to fulfill this requirement.

                        Committee Consideration

    On April 27, 2012, the full Committee met in an open markup 
session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 4201 reported 
favorably to the House of Representatives by voice vote.

                            Committee Votes

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires the Committee to list the record votes 
on the motion to report the legislation and amendments thereto. 
There were no record votes taken on amendments or in connection 
with ordering H.R. 4201, reported to the House. A motion by Ms. 
Corrine Brown of Florida to order H.R. 4201, reported favorably 
to the House of Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report.

   New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits

    H.R. 4201 does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
4201, prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 4201, provided by the Congressional Budget Office 
pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                                      May 10, 2012.
Hon. Jeff Miller,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4201, the 
Servicemember Family Protection Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is William Ma.
            Sincerely,
                                              Douglas W. Elmendorf.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 4201--Servicemember Family Protection Act

    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4201 would have no 
effect on the federal budget. The bill would amend the 
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to improve the protections 
offered to deploying servicemembers in matters related to 
court-ordered arrangements for child custody. For 
servicemembers who deploy for periods between 60 days and 18 
months, H.R. 4201 would restrict courts from considering those 
absences when determining permanent child-custody arrangements. 
The bill also would require the reinstatement of custody orders 
in effect preceding any deployment or anticipated deployment of 
the servicemember (unless a court finds that reinstatement is 
not in the child's best interest) and provide servicemembers 
with either the protections under this bill or applicable state 
law, whichever is most favorable.
    Enacting H.R. 4201 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 4201 contains an intergovernmental mandate as defined 
in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) because it would 
preempt state laws, applicable to child custody protection, 
that provide less protection to servicemembers than the federal 
standard. While the preemption would limit the application of 
state law, CBO estimates that it would impose no duty on state, 
local, or tribal governments that would result in additional 
spending.
    H.R. 4201 contains no private-sector mandates as defined in 
UMRA.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are William Ma 
(for federal costs) and Lisa Ramirez-Branum (for the 
intergovernmental impact). The estimate was approved by Theresa 
Gullo, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                       Federal Mandates Statement

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 4201, prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 423 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
4201.

                 Statement of Constitutional Authority

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, the reported bill is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation


Section 1. Short title

    This section designates H.R. 4201 as the ``Servicemember 
Family Protection Act.''

Section 2. Protection of child custody arrangement for parents who are 
        Members of the Armed Forces

    This section amends Title II of the Servicemembers Civil 
Relief Act by adding a new section on child custody protection.
    Subsection (a) provides for a new section 208 in the SCRA 
that provides that 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.
    Subsection (b) of new section 208 prohibits courts from 
considering the absence or potential absence of a servicemember 
from being considered as part of the court's determination of 
the child's best interest.
    Subsection (c) of new section 208 states that nothing in 
this new section shall create a Federal right of action.
    Subsection (d) of new section 208 states that if any 
applicable state law that gives a greater level of protection 
to the rights of the parents than the one provided by this 
section, the state law will apply.
    Subsection (e) of new section 208 defines a deployment as 
movement or mobilization of a servicemember for a period no 
shorter than 60 days and not longer than 18 months where the 
servicemember is not authorized to bring their dependents.
    Subsection (b) amends the table of contents in section 1(b) 
of the SCRA to include ``208. Child custody protection.''

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                    Servicemembers Civil Relief Act


SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

  (a) * * *
  (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is 
as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
     * * * * * * *

                        TITLE II--GENERAL RELIEF

     * * * * * * *
208. Child custody protection.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


TITLE II--GENERAL RELIEF

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


SEC. 208. CHILD CUSTODY PROTECTION.

  (a) 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).
  (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.
  (c) No Federal Right of Action.--Nothing in this section 
shall create a Federal right of action.
  (d) Preemption.--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.
  (e) 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--
          (1) that are designated as unaccompanied;
          (2) for which dependent travel is not authorized; or
          (3) that otherwise do not permit the movement of 
        family members to that location.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *