Child custody matters are difficult for anyone to handle. When one of the parents is in the military, the challenges seem to mount. Understanding what special considerations are in place for members of the armed forces can help the men and women facing these situations to formulate a plan.
Remember that military service shouldn't preclude a parent from having custody of a child. The best interests of the child are the focus of the case. If the military member is the parent the court decides it is in the child's best interests to live with, that is the parent who will have custody of the child.
Military members have to move when their orders require them to report to a new duty station. Child custody orders for parents in the military should have a special provision that enables them to do this. Since child custody orders are handled on a state level, the service member has to comply with the laws of the state with jurisdiction over the case. You might be required to show that the move to a new duty station will benefit the child, which can be a challenge. This makes the provision for duty-related moves necessary.
Family care plan
Any military parent who has custody of a child needs to have a family care plan on file. This plan outlines what is going to happen if the service member is deployed or must undergo training that takes them away from the child. The plan includes guardianship designations for separations of up to 30 days and for more than 30 days. Information about the child's daily schedule, education and health care are also included. These comprehensive plans must be approved by the commanding officer of the service member.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
This act provides protections for service members who are on active duty. This is helpful if there are issues that manifest while you are deployed or engaged in duties that require your full attention. By requesting protection under this act in writing, you can have a 90-automatic stay on the proceedings. You should note that this is only valid for civil case and doesn't apply if there are criminal court or criminal administrative elements to the case.
Preparations for a child custody case are handled largely the same for all parents, including those in the military. You should think about visitation plans, decision-making powers and similar points.