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Law group seeks to align military child custody rules nationally

For a long time, military families have faced complications in child custody and visitation rights cases because every state has different laws governing some situations. This disparity is worsened by the nomadic nature of military personnel and the high rate of overseas service through deployments and other assignments.

If a national legal panel gets its way, though, Georgia and other states will soon be given the opportunity to adopt a standardized set of laws covering child custody and other family issues for military service members, drastically cutting down on the legal complications many military families face.

The standardized laws are being developed by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), which consists of 350 attorneys from across the United States. The ULC recently met to give final approval to the proposed laws, which are contained in the Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act.

Because many state laws concerning family and child custody issues vary so widely, jurisdiction is important in any case. But since military service members are constantly being moved to new locations, determining the proper jurisdiction to handle a case can be difficult. Yet jurisdiction can have huge implications in the end result of any case, making it a primary concern to both military families and the courts themselves to choose the appropriate venue to hear a case.

The new laws would simplify this process and allow more time and energy to be devoted to resolving issues instead of creating new ones through a differentiated and highly decentralized legal system.

The ULC has had success encouraging states to adopt standardized laws in the past. One recent collection of rules and laws drafted by the ULC was adopted by 49 states.

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

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