At the end of 2015, only nine states had adopted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA), but on January 1, 2016, Nebraska became the 10th state to embrace the act. A national group, the Uniform Law Commission has been working on getting the act approved in all states for some time now, promoting it as a way to protect the best interests of children who have deployed parents in the military.
Violating Parent’s Constitutional Rights
The Uniform Law Commission advises the act does not penalize parents for their willingness to serve their country, while still keeping in mind the rights of the parent who is not deployed. This is where the controversy over the act comes in. It would make sense that a non-deployed parent would have custody over a child when the other parent is deployed, which is what the parental preference doctrine also states.
If there is not a child custody order in place for deployment, and the parents cannot agree on custodial and visitation issues, the case can be taken in front of a court to make a decision. Under the UDPCVA, a judge can assign custody of a child to a non-parental figure in the child’s life, if that is what the court sees as in the best interest of the child. It would be a temporary court order, which would end when the period of deployment was over.
For instance, let’s say a father has custody of his son and the mother has visitation rights and the father gets deployed. The father can appeal to the court to award custody of his son to his current wife, which would be his son’s step-mother, while he is away on deployment. Once he returns from deployment, the original custody and visitation order will go back into effect.
The courts have already upheld the UDPCVA in several states, including this Iowa case, in which the scenario above actually happened and the mother-in-law was awarded custody during the father’s deployment. If you are a parent who might be deployed or the other parent of your child is getting deployed, and you cannot agree on custody during the deployment, contact or call Johnson & Pekny LLC at (402) 298-8288. We know child custody and visitation laws in Omaha, Plattsmouth and Blair, and can help when military deployment comes into the picture.