Berman & Asbel, LLP

Commission recommends uniform custody laws for military parents

A majority of states, including Pennsylvania, have adopted laws aimed at protecting the rights of military parents in child custody and visitation cases. The problem is that these laws lack uniformity, which can create headaches when cases cross state lines.

That's why the Uniform Law Commission is recommending a set of uniform laws that states can adopt to help standardize the custody rights of parents who are deployed. The commission, which has been around for over a century, met to give final approval of the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act this week.

A spokesperson for the commission said the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act combined the best practices of all states with guidance from family law experts. Because the commission only offers recommendations, it will be up to the individual states to turn the suggested rules into law.

A few issues that are addressed in the uniform act include: how to determine jurisdiction when a military parent is assigned to a base in another state, whether there are visitation rights for step-parents and grandparents when a parent is deployed, and whether temporary custody arrangements should be made permanent when a parent returns from deployment.

These are just a few of the issues that can cause problems in child custody cases involving military parents before, during and after deployment. Hopefully, if states adopt these uniform laws it will provide more consistency on how these cases are handled throughout the country.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is another piece of legislation drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, and it is now used in 49 states. The UCCJEA sets the ground rules for jurisdiction and child support orders between states.

Source: Newsday, "U.S. panel: Improve child custody rules for military," July 18, 2012

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