As of March 11, 2022, a new law in Wisconsin called the “Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act” expands parents’ ability to delegate custody and placement responsibilities for a child when one parent is deployed in military service. The deploying parent must notify the other parent of the upcoming deployment. A documented exchange of plans outlining how each parent plans to fulfill their custody and placement responsibilities during the deployment is required to be made if the parents do not reside in the same household.
Frequently, the deployed parent requests that his or her placement time be awarded to a third party such as a step-parent or a grandparent. However, in that event, both parties must agree in a signed, written agreement, to give temporary custody and/or placement responsibilities to a nonparent during a parent’s deployment. The individual who accepts temporary custody or placement must also agree to the specific arrangements in writing. The parents’ agreement should include the frequency and method of contact between the deploying parent and the child or children. If more than two individuals are given legal custody rights, a process to resolve any custodial disputes should be included in the written agreement.
In some situations, parents may not agree as to what, if any, temporary custody or placement arrangements should be made when facing a parent’s deployment. In that situation, the law allows either parent to file a motion to address the issues of temporary custody and placement during a deployment. It does not matter if there is not an existing family case such as divorce or paternity that addresses custody and placement. A new case may be created with the court to make these temporary orders. It is also possible that temporary child support may be set up during the parent’s absence. In addressing these issues, the court must also make clear that the custody and placement arrangement made for the nonparent is only temporary. A process to end this authority, whether by stipulation from all parties, or the end of the deployment, should also be ordered by the Court.
These new legal changes are intended to provide helpful options to families wherein a parent faces deployment. The Court will certainly be taking into consideration the best interest of the children involved, and hopefully minimize any disruption to the relationship between the children and the deployed parent. If you have questions, or concerns, regarding how this new law may affect you in your family law matter, please call us at (414) 258-1644 to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.