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Deployed military parents struggle with child custody issues

When a member of the military is deployed outside of Florida or the country, for that matter it is generally not a matter of choice but rather an order. The Uniform Law Commission is a group of 350 attorneys from every state who work towards drafting state-level legislation for consideration and adoption by each state. Because many of our military service members are often deployed in a different state than they normally reside in jurisdictional problems often arise when a child custody issue surfaces in a military divorce.

Consider, for example, one parent decides to move out of state when the other parent is deployed in another state or country. There is the couple's and child's home state, the new state one parent lives in and the state the service member has been deployed to. Three states are now involved in the divorce and child custody case, so which state's laws should prevail? The inconsistencies in the application of child custody laws have made it difficult for many military members to effectively retain or enforce their parental rights in custody and visitation agreements.

Child custody laws vary by state, which leads many family courts to struggle with the determination of which state's laws should apply in any given case. The ULC decided there should be some consistency in how military personnel are treated by family courts in regards to multi-state custody disputes so its latest project has been the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. It is a set of uniform laws that are designed to streamline the process by providing states with a standard procedural response to resolving custody and visitation issues for deployed military personnel across state lines.

The dissolution of a marriage in Florida can be difficult enough but when multi-state jurisdictional issues arise, finding a fair and equitable solution to child custody and visitation problems can make an already difficult time that much more complicated. The Uniform Law Commission is hoping to take its proposed set of uniform codes to state legislatures for consideration next year.

Source: KPBS Public Broadcasting, "Child Custody Laws For Military Under Scrutiny," Beth Ford Roth, July 18, 2012

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