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Recently, a panel has been put together to discuss uniform family law rules for military service members. Specifically, this panel, which is made up of representatives from every state including Illinois, is trying to come up with a uniform set of child custody laws.

Currently, soldiers face a series of complex and unclear child custody laws when they are facing deployment. For military members that are frequently deployed or stationed away from family, this can cause serious headaches should child custody disputes arise. Courts are often unsure which laws apply and how exactly military status should be considered when determining child visitation.

Furthermore, there are often questions about third-party visitation and custody for children whose parent, or parents, are deployed. For example, grandparents and step-parents who are appointed guardians during deployments may want to continue custody or visitation after the parent returns, despite the parents’ wishes.

The panel is looking to solve these problems by creating standard laws which would apply in each state. The panel will draft what they think is the best solution to these problems. However, it will be up to each state to pass a law based on the panel’s recommendations. If states pass these laws, it will be clearer to courts how military status should affect child custody disputes.

If a new set of laws is passed in Illinois, it will be important to make sure military members are not given an advantage or a disadvantage simply because of their military status. In fact, despite these potential new laws, courts still need to make custody determinations in the best interest of the child. To do this, courts will need to look at the whole picture, not just the parents’ occupations, to decide what is best.

Source: WAND, “US panel: Improve child custody rules for military,” Kristin M. Hall, July 18, 2012