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Changing Child Custody Laws for Military Families?

Determining visitation and custody rights in the wake of a divorce can be emotionally draining and complex. For military couples facing child custody issues, the legal hurdles can be even greater. Military families can encounter unique problems that their civilian counterparts do not have to consider.

Consequently, a national legal group has come up with a set of uniform codes to regulate custody rights for military couples across the country. The Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act sets out a number of child custody regulations for those in the military, which state governments can choose to adopt.

"States are all across the board on these issues, so the impetus for the uniform act was to provide states with a well-conceived piece of legislation that takes the best practices from all the states that we have seen and give them some guidance," said one of the members of the group who established the rules.

The most common child custody issues arise when one parent is deployed. State courts have addressed these issues differently, leading to some confusion, particularly when the parents live in different states upon the return of the deployed service member.

Courts have had to tackle the issue of whether certain family members, such as grandparents, can have visitation rights when one parent is deployed. Additionally, when the deployed parent returns, courts typically have to determine whether what began as a temporary custody agreement when the parent was overseas should become permanent.

In addition to these proposed uniform rules, legislation has also been proposed at a federal level; however, it has yet to pass the Senate.

For those who are facing difficult child custody battles, consulting with an experienced family law attorney will ensure their parental rights are protected.

Source: WBOC, "US panel: Improve child custody rules for military," Kristin M. Hall, July 18, 2012.

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