Georgia military service members know that risk comes with their job. But that risk should not extend to losing parenting rights in a child custody dispute in the event of divorce. However, because states have widely varying rules regarding child custody, service members unfamiliar with the intricacies of each state's laws may be risking an adverse child custody outcome.
That may change. The Uniform Law Commission, an influential group of lawyers with the goal of establishing uniform rules across the country, especially in areas of law where consistency across state lines is paramount. The commission drafts uniform laws and then lobbies for state legislatures to pass them.
Recently, the commission gave final approval to a new proposed law. The Deployed Parents Custody Visitation Act would create a consistent set of rules regarding key family law issues for deployed service members.
Readers may wonder why this is important. After all, service members can hire a local attorney well-versed in the rules of their state. Well, as supporters of the proposed law point out, figuring out which state laws applies and whether a state court will even exercise jurisdiction can be tricky.
Service members move often as part of the job. The state where the service member is residing may not necessarily be the state that would have jurisdiction over the case. Likewise, if the service member is ordered to move to another state in the middle of the case, which state would have jurisdiction?
There also can be issues if a military service person is deployed and returns to find his or her family has up and left for some other state.
According to proponents, a uniform set of rules would resolve these issues and the many others that service members face when family law issues arise.
The Commission expects to start getting state legislatures to approve the model Act at the beginning of next year.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Legal group drafts law to make child custody rules work better for deployed military parents," Kristin M. Hall, AP, July 18, 2012