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Montgomery County, PA Military and Child Custody Lawyers

Assistance with Military Service and Child Custody Issues

According to 2017 estimates by The U.S. Department of Defense, there are roughly 1.3 million men and women in active duty service and another 800,000 in a reserve military capacity. Many of those who serve and defend our country face additional challenges when they have minor children, particularly when they are deployed to different locations throughout the world. Service members may be separated from their spouses and children for lengthy periods of time, which can produce feelings of strain, sorrow, and regret. Pennsylvania is a state that advocates for the child custody rights of our men and women in uniform.

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Custody Proceedings During Deployment

The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes address concerns with child custody for those deployed for military purposes. If the court receives a petition for a child custody change while a parent is deployed, no permanent changes are to be ordered. The court may enter a temporary change of custody if it is in the child’s best interest. Service members may petition for a modification to temporarily assign child custody to others during their absence. The family members who will temporarily assume custody should be included in the petition process.

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Custody Post-Deployment

When the parent’s deployment period is completed, any temporary orders are terminated. The custody arrangement that was in effect prior to the deployment continues.

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Special Exclusions

When a court is determining what is in a child’s best interest for custody arrangements, a parent’s military service should be excluded from the determining factors. The intent is to avoid considering past or potential periods of military deployment as a negative factor when deciding what would be in a child’s best interest. Also, if a parent is unable to attend a court appearance due to military deployment, the inability to appear itself is insufficient grounds for justifying a custody order modification.

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Expedited & Electronic Hearings

If a parent is notified of an upcoming military deployment, they have the right to have a custody hearing prioritized, meaning the court may speed up a hearing amid these circumstances. In addition, the parent may use electronic means of communication to interact with the court for testimony, evidence, and other proceedings. The electronic methods that are permitted include communicating via telephone, remote conferencing platforms, and other internet-based technologies that are available.

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The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody & Visitation Act (UDPCVA)

The UDPCVA began in 2012 in response to continuing struggles that many military personnel were experiencing in balancing the demands of military service and parenting. Thus far, roughly 12 U.S. states have adopted the UDPCVA. This act adds additional provisions to support how child custody and visitation orders are maintained for deployed parents. It more broadly addresses aspects of Pennsylvania’s related statutes such as visitation access during mid-tour leaves of absence.

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2017 Pennsylvania Update

The Pennsylvania state legislature is actively involved in the adoption of the UDPCVA, which will ultimately revise the Title 23 and 51 consolidated statutes. In March 2017 the judiciary will begin working on the next phase of the legislative process.

The nation-wide implementation of uniform laws relating to issues such as the child custody of military parents will continue in efforts to correct variances and deficiencies in laws on a state-to-state basis. Military parents who encounter family law concerns should seek assistance from an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney. For nearly three decades, the legal team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. has been advocating for clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us for a consultation by calling (610) 645-0100.

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Additional Information

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