Family Law Quarterly
Volume 47, No. 1 (Spring 2013)

Potpourri of Family Law Topics

Table of Contents

Please note that pursuant to the ABA's copyright and reprint policies, these articles may not be disseminated without written permission.

Editor's Note
Linda D. Elrod

Shifts in the Law Regarding the Rights of Third Parties to Seek Visitation and Custody of Children
Jeff Atkinson

This article analyzes the law of third-party visitation and custody in the United States.  It describes how state statutes and case law have changed in the thirteen years since the United State Supreme Court decided Troxel v. Granville, with the shift in the law generally giving more deference to the decisions of parents.  Regarding custody, Professor Atkinson tracks the circumstances in which third parties, including stepparents, have gained custody. He also notes the trend in the law to give more rights to persons who have acted as de facto parents. The article concludes with recommendations for further developments in the law and contains an appendix with a model act developed by the ABA Section of Family Law (but not approved by the ABA).

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Summary of Grandparent and Third-Party Visitation Statutes in the Fifty States

This chart details state statutes regarding grandparent and third-party visitation rights.

Download chart

Model Third-Party Child Custody and Visitation Act

Provided here is the text of the act developed by the ABA Section of Family Law. This act has not been voted on by the ABA House of Delegates and thus is not approved by the ABA.

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Prioritizing Child Safety as the Prime Best-Interest Factor
Allen M. Bailey

The author describes recent research that documents the wide range of adverse effects--some of them life-long--that remain with about half of all children who are exposed to violence in their families.  Because of the recurrent behavior patterns of abusive parents, largely men who batter their partners and a lesser percentage of women who are mentally ill, family courts are urged to elevate consideration of domestic violence to the highest priority in child custody actions, above other best-interest factors.  To best accomplish this, the safety-first paradigm proposed at the inter-disciplinary Wingspread 2007 conference of child custody experts should be adopted by all family courts in placing children of separated parents.

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When Mothers Stay: Adjusting to Loss After Relocation Disputes
Patrick Parkinson & Judy Cashmore

In determining what outcome is likely to be in the best interests of children, it is necessary to try to predict how each of the parents and the children will respond to, and cope with, the decision that is made. That is particularly difficult in relocation cases. This article reports on the experiences of fifteen mothers over a four to five-year period following the conclusion of a relocation dispute, and for whom the initial outcome was that they did not move away as they had sought to do. Eight out of fifteen of the mothers indicated that in hindsight it had been better for their children to stay in close proximity to their father. All of these mothers said the children were "fairly close" or "very close" to their father at the final interview or before. The mothers varied in how well they had coped with the decision, some accepting it, others having adjusted as best they could without accepting it, and a few adjusting poorly. Four factors seemed to have made the most difference in terms of being able to adjust, or not, to the adverse outcome: the degree of control they were able to exercise over their own futures; their recognition that the children benefited from a close relationship with their father; the father’s degree of involvement with, and responsibility for, the children, and the level of toxicity in the father-mother relationship. The article concludes by considering possible implications for better decision-making in relocation cases.

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Introduction to the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Mark E. Sullivan

Sullivan believes that military servicemembers are currently at a distinct disadvantage in seeking custody of their children in a divorce case.  He believes that the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, which was drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, is a new tool that will help put military servicememebers on an equal footing in seeking custody of and visitation with their children. He details the problems servicemembers face, the reluctance of courts to award custody to parents who are or may be deployed, and the protections available under the act. He encourages state legislatures to pass the act.

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Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

Provided here is the text of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act as passed buy the Uniform Law Commission, along with prefatory note and comments.

Read act

Publication Date: July 2013



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Board of Editors

Editor in Chief
Linda D. Elrod

Associate Editor
Robert G. Spector

Board of Editors
Jeff Atkinson
Jean N. Crowe
John DeWitt Gregory
Robert J. Levy
J. Thomas Oldham
John J. Sampson
Samuel V. Schoonmaker IV
Nancy Ver Steegh

Reviewing Editors
Susan Appleton
Patricia M. Hoff
Harry D. Krause
Paul M. Kurtz
Dr. Milfred D. Dale

Managing Editor
Deborah Eisel

Washburn University School of Law
2012-2013 Student Editorial Staff

Student Editor-In-Chief
Ellen J. Grennier

Student Executive Research Editor
Benjamin T. Hinkle

Student Senior Editor
Leah N. Bockover

Student Junior Editors
Travis L. Cook
A. Kelsey DeLong
Annalee J. Foster
Hazel L. Gauthier
Eileen D. Ma
Chandler L. Maxon
Matthew C. McGregor
Justin J. Pierson
Laura E. Poschen
Stephanie A. Randall
Ginger E. Wells

Staff Assistants
Penny R. Fell
Shirley Jacobson