UNIFORM DEPLOYED PARENTS CUSTODY AND VISITATION ACT (UDPCVA)

Kedra M. Gotel

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The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) will operate as a uniform federal law across the United States to ensure custody cases, involving two or more states where deployed or deployable military parents are parties to the action, are resolved expeditiously and fairly. [1] UDPCVA will also aim to strike a balance among the parties’ varying interest i.e. military parent and his/her choice to serve the country, the non-military parent and the most important interest of all, the needs of the children involved. [2] To date, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is the only federal law that aims to protect legal interests of military members on deployment. SCRA, however, provides very limited protection in custody proceedings (protection often lost after a 90-day period). [3]

The 2013 Georgia General Assembly did not adopt the UDPCVA as currently drafted. House Bill 685 as it is currently known awaits updates and is scheduled to be adopted during the 2014 session. [4] The Act once adopted will replace Georgia’s Military Parents Rights Act. While Georgia awaits its adoption, the Act is sure to improve any state’s law. Some of the notable improvements include:

· Reducing the impact of courts using past or future deployment to adversely affect the custody disposition without serious consideration of the child’s best interest

· Fosters private, mutual agreements between parents who are facing deployment

· Integrates with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and declares the residence of the deploying parent not changed by reason of the deployment, thus protecting against jurisdictional litigation

· Permits unilateral custody arrangements during service member’s deployment (effectuated via power of attorney)

· Allows the court, at the request of a deploying parent, to grant the service member’s portion of custodial responsibility in the form of caretaking authority to an adult nonparent who is either a family member or with whom the child has a close and substantial relationship

· Protects against the entry of permanent custody orders before or during deployment without service member consent

· Provides a set of expedited procedures for entry of a temporary custody order during deployment [5]

Note: North Dakota is the first state to enact the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, March 22, 2013. [6]

[1] Legislative Proposal for 2013 General Assembly Session, Wm. John Camp, Esq. http://www.gabar.org/committeesprogramssections/programs/leg/

[2]Id.

[3] Id.; SCRA covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments. http://www.justice.gov/crt/spec_topics/military/scra.php

[4] HB 685, updating the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, is in the House Civil Judiciary Committee and will be considered in the 2014 session. http://www.gabar.org/committeesprogramssections/programs/leg/weekly_updates.cfm

[5] Legislative Proposal for 2013 General Assembly Session, Wm. John Camp, Esq. http://www.gabar.org/committeesprogramssections/programs/leg/

[6] www.uniformlaws.org

Additional Resources

Military Divorce

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