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New custody provisions protect rights of parents in the military

Military families can face specific kinds of challenges in child custody disputes. Because service members are so often deployed and redeployed, it is possible that judges in multiple jurisdictions will have a say in divorce and child custody matters.

To provide some inter-jurisdictional uniformity and protections for military members, new rules were included in this year's defense authorization bill, which was passed by Congress in December. According to the new rules, unless a modification is needed to protect the child's best interests, child custody arrangements cannot be changed while a parent is deployed, and the custody arrangement prior to deployment will be in place after the deployed parent returns.

The changes came about in large part because of the efforts of a mother who lost custody of her daughter after returning home from military deployment. The woman and her ex-husband agreed that he would have temporary guardianship while she was away, but the father decided that he would retain custody of the child after the mother returned. A state judge then granted the father primary custody, and the mother's military responsibilities were cited as a reason for the decision.

The mother's legal battle made it to the Kentucky Supreme Court, and the daughter was again placed in the mother's custody. Since then, the mother has fought for a national standard that would protect other military members from discrimination in child custody decisions.

An article in Military Times has more on the mother's legal struggle to regain custody of her child.

For more on time sharing and parenting plans for Florida families, please visit our Plantation child custody overview.

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