Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Custody Law for Military Families

Title 23 which speaks to domestic relations, and Title 51 which speaks to military affairs, were both amended in 2012 by ACT NO. 2012-32 S.B. No. 1167. This act understood the need to amend either title in order to allow members of the military to actively and fairly participate in custody proceedings.

One major way the amendments seek to accomplish this is the use of "electronic means" to enable participation of employed individuals in custody proceedings. This allows individuals to communicate by phone, video conference, or the internet. With the constant redefinition of virtual communication, "electronic" means will constantly be redefined. Ultimately this will give rise to an electronic hearing, where an individual who qualifies has the ability to submit electronic testimony when they are unable to be in court in person.

The amendments also provide for a temporary assignment of a service member's child to another member of their family in the case of deployment. The case arises when the service member is deployed and a custody order between them and the other parent currently exists. In this case, instead of the other parent assuming full custody, the deployed parent may assign their custody rights to another one of their family members. They may only assign the amount of custody they were given in the original order. In order to do this, the court must be involved and they must grant this temporary reassignment of custody. The court's main objective is the best interest of the child and they will evaluate all relevant factors accordingly in a given situation.

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