CUSTODY AND SERVICEPEOPLE: New law not perfect but does have good elements.

Position2021 Wisconsin Act 161 or the Uniform Deployed Custody and Visitation Act

Byline: Bridgetower Media Newswires

The confluence of law and politics does not always equal good policy. A good example is the continuing efforts over the years to deal with the issue of the effect of deployed service people and the placement of minor children.

The most recent effort in Wisconsin occurred on March 13 when 2021 Wisconsin Act 161, or the Uniform Deployed Custody and Visitation Act, gave rise to Wis. Stat. section 324.21. The new law establishes a process and standards for temporary delegation of custodial responsibilities when a parent is deployed to military service. Although the new law is not perfect, it does include some good elements.

The new law clarifies who qualifies as a deployed parent, as well as the meaning of deployment. The law specifies that the deployed parent must provide notice of the deployment to the other parent within seven days or as soon as reasonably possible.

In addition to the notification requirement, the deploying and non-deploying parents are required to provide one another with a plan for fulfilling their respective shares of responsibility during the deployment. The most significant changes promulgated by the Act are provisions allowing for delegation of custodial responsibilities during deployment.

Although most of the law seems to be appropriate, I have two comments, one negative and one positive. First, under s. 324.32, if a motion to grant custodial responsibility is filed under sub (2) before a deploying parent deploys, the court "shall conduct a hearing within 30 days of filing." Have any of the legislators who voted for this law ever been to the Milwaukee County...

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