"The increased deployment of servicemembers beginning in 2001 as a result of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom has raised difficult military child custody issues that in some cases potentially affect the welfare of military children as well as servicemembers' ability to effectively serve their country. Approximately 142,000 members of the Armed Forces (active, Guard, and Reserve) are single custodians of minor children. Temporary duty assignments, mobilization, and deployments to areas that do not allow the military member's dependent(s) to accompany them require the servicemember to have contingency plans providing for the care and well-being of their dependent(s) to include temporary custody arrangements if necessary. In some instances, custody battles have ensued when the military parent leaves for duty and the other parent decides to file for temporary or permanent custody of the child in the absence of the servicemember. Some servicemembers involved in such child custody cases have expressed concern that family courts in some states are using their military service against them in determining custodial arrangements. The issue addressed in this report is whether a federal child custody law is needed to protect servicemembers' rights in custodial disputes."
CRS Report for Congress, R43091