Colorado is home to six military bases, four of which are Air Force bases. There is a problem that many of those who serve are facing not only on our bases in Colorado, but around the world. The issue is child custody.
It was recently announced that a commission has been formed that will seek to unify a set of rules that can be applied to service members at home and abroad as it relates to child custody and visitation. Currently, the laws are a patchwork of state laws, many of which are in conflict with one another.
The commission is made up of a group of 350 attorneys, primarily family law attorneys. The group is called the Uniform Law Commission and the document they have been working on is called the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. It is a group of legal codes that each state could adopt on behalf of parents who are deployed.
There are a number of issues which are being addressed.
- Where is the jurisdiction when one parent is assigned to a base in a state separate from the other parent?
- Does a stepparent or guardian have visitation rights if a parent is deployed?
- Are temporary custody arrangements made permanent just because a deployed parent comes back to a home base?
Divorce is never easy. Child custody disputes can erupt between parents even in the best of circumstances. When one parent is in a legal limbo due to a deployment, even simple questions can become complicated.
It is unclear whether or not the commission's efforts will be adopted at the state level. The federal government has already attempted to address these same issues with an amendment, not yet passed, to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Uniform Law Commission believes this should properly be a state's rights issue rather than a federal issue.
In either case, a parent with any child custody or visitation issues would be wise to consult with a legal professional experienced with such matters.
Source: Newsday, "U.S. panel: Improve child custody rules for military," July 18, 2012
Our law firm represents parents with child custody issues such as those discussed in this post.