Returning military personnel face child custody challenges

Military servicemen and women returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan after single or repeat deployments are routinely facing some challenging issues. Child custody and support issues, unfortunately, are among them. Typically, these personnel leave behind families with small children or expectant wives to serve our country abroad. Upon their return some have found that their spouse has left the state and refuses to let them see the child.

A Navy petty officer deployed in 2007 found himself in a unique situation when his pregnant wife left the state they resided in prior to the deployment with his belongings and now 7-month-old daughter. Upon his return, she refused to let him see his daughter. When he filed a petition to order his wife to return his daughter, the court cited jurisdictional issues and an inability to do so.

To address this type of issue, the Uniform Law Commission, comprised of influential attorneys appointed by all the states, gave its final approval to a set of uniform codes which states can adopt to standardize child custody rights for military parents. This follows the failure of federal legislation introduced in Congress to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which did not pass the Senate due to state sovereignty issues. Despite the unique circumstances of military parents, the challenges faced by them are similar to those faced by many non-military parents - and this can include child custody and support issues, as well as visitation rights disputes.

Custodial, non-custodial and military parents in Florida facing issues of support, custody and visitation should know that laws pertaining to these issues vary from state to state, but they have options. In Florida, the amount of child support one owes depe nds on the number of overnights one spends with the child. However, in the best interest of the child, overnights may not always be granted. Other factors which impact the amount of child support payment include the income of both parents, childcare and educational costs and healthcare.

Many non-custodial parents are required under the law to pay child support. Usually, a mutually agreeable custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interest in all parties involved to minimize potential conflicts.

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

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