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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 14, 2016 11:39 AM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation updating the law on the assignment of custody and visitation rights of deployed parents. This bill was introduced last session as Senate Bill 1056 and was unanimously passed by the Senate but was never considered by the House Judiciary Committee.

The increased deployment of service members has sometimes raised difficult child custody issues that profoundly affect both a service members’ ability to serve their country and their children’s welfare.

Because of the mobile nature of military service and because a child’s other parent will often live in or move to a different state than the deployed service member, many times custody issues involve two or more states.

To respond to the critical need for uniformity and just resolution of custody issues when a service member deploys, the Uniform Law Commission drafted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act.

As you may recall, legislation I sponsored, Senate Bill 1167, signed into law as Act 32 of 2012, provided that a service member may petition the court for temporary custody when a notice of deployment is received, including temporary assignment of custody rights to family members.

This legislation, the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, was developed in close consultation with the Department of Defense after Act 32 went into effect, and contains the same key provisions as Act 32, but also contains several additional provisions which may facilitate its interstate application. These revisions are an important priority for the U.S. Department of Defense, and so far, twelve states have enacted it.

Unlike Act 32 which applies only during "contingency operations," this legislation would apply whenever a service member is deployed to any location for 30 days or more under orders that do not authorize dependent travel, do not permit the movement of family members to the location of deployment, or designate the movement as unaccompanied.

This legislation also makes other important improvements to the current law, including broadening the definition of service member, expanding the class of individuals to whom temporary custodial rights may be assigned and providing more detailed procedures for reinstatement or modification of a pre-deployment custody and visitation order.

Previous co-sponsors were Senators Sabatina, Fontana, Schwank, Folmer, Farnese, Mensch, Rafferty Bartolotta, Scarnati, Haywood and Ward.

Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB511