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House passes controversial military child custody bill

The House recently passed a bill that could end up affecting child custody for military families in Illinois and throughout the country. However, while the House did pass the bill on a 390-to-2 vote last week, it's believed that the Senate will almost most certainly not approve.

The bill was introduced by one representative with the purpose of making sure military members are not put at a disadvantage when it comes to child custody due to their deployments. However, contenders of this bill -- like Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the National Military Family Association and the American Bar Association -- claim that the negatives outweigh the positives.

Among those fears is that the bill would make it so a parent who didn't like the outcome of a military child custody case, could then simply go to a federal court in the hopes of a different ruling. Additionally, there is also a fear that these cases would end up going before judges who have no experience in family law.

Some critics also claim the bill favors military members and not the best interests of the child -- which should always be what custody decisions are based on.

However, the creator of the bill claims the purpose is not to increase federal jurisdiction or favor military members, but to rather make sure deployments are not used against a service member when it comes to child custody decisions.

In the end, while this is surely a rather hot topic, it's important to keep in mind that outside of child custody issues, military members in Illinois are in rather unique situations when it comes to their divorce. Due to these differences it's advisable for those in the military, or with a spouse in the military, to contact a family law attorney with experience in military divorce in order to learn about the different processes and policies that could end up playing a role in the process.

Source: Kitsap Sun, "Tom PHILPOTT | Reforms sought for military child custody issues," June 7, 2012

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