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Panel Creating Uniform Custody Rules for Military Parents

Military service comes with its own set of unique complications. Many of these are expected, but a lot of them aren't. For example, many military members don't realize that a military deployment can actually be a major roadblock in their quest to seek and obtain child custody.

Right now, there is no uniform policy on how to handle child custody cases when one parent is deployed overseas or is bouncing around from state to state. Although most states have implemented their own sets of rules, significant conflict can arise if both parents do not live in the same jurisdiction.

A national legal panel - called the Uniform Law Commission - is working to solve this problem. Earlier this month, they met to work out the final version of the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, which sets uniform rules for handling custody cases involving deployed members of the military. The act is designed to address some of the common child custody problems military families encounter, including:

  • Jurisdiction when one parent is stationed at a base in another state
  • Whether grandparents or step-grandparents should be allowed visitation rights when a parent is stationed overseas
  • Whether temporary custody arrangements should become permanent after a parent returns home

The act also creates some basic protections for military members. For example, it says that a parent can't be considered to have been "absent" simply because they were deployed. It also recognizes that for many military personnel, a move out of state is often not a voluntary decision.

At the end of the day, the commission hopes that this act will provided needed peace of mind for military families.

Source: Today's THV, "U.S. panel: Improve child custody rules for military," Lindsey Tugman, July 19, 2012.

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