Child Custody Laws Concerning Deployed Parents

By Heather Frances J.D.

In many ways, military custody cases are the same as civilian custody cases -- and both are decided by state courts. When military parents deploy or move to a new duty station, however, custody orders may need altering to match the family's new situation. Depending on state laws, special rules may apply to the deployed parent's custody arrangements.

In many ways, military custody cases are the same as civilian custody cases -- and both are decided by state courts. When military parents deploy or move to a new duty station, however, custody orders may need altering to match the family's new situation. Depending on state laws, special rules may apply to the deployed parent's custody arrangements.

Assigning Custody Rights

Generally, parents are not permitted to give their custody rights to someone else, allowing another person to take time normally reserved for the parent. But some states, like Pennsylvania and North Carolina, allow parents to temporarily assign custody rights to a family member while they are deployed. Assignments can help a child keep a close relationship with the deployed parent through contact with that parent's family members, easing the transition when that parent returns. Assignment laws may require the deploying parent to ask the court for permission to make this assignment. Courts evaluate the assignment to ensure that it is in the child's best interests.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Temporary Orders Are Available

States generally allow courts to issue temporary custody orders while a military parent is deployed. This allows the court to find a placement that is in the child's best interests while the deployed parent is away without hurting the deployed parent's long-term custody arrangements. For example, if one parent becomes unfit to care for the couple's children while the other parent is deployed, a court could issue temporary custody orders placing the children with another family member. Similarly, if a custody dispute between parents is not resolved prior to one parent's deployment, the court can issue a temporary order addressing custody while the deployed parent is gone.

Returning from Deployment

When a parent returns from deployment, state laws determine what happens to custody arrangements that were put in place while he was gone. For example, the same Pennsylvania law that allows deploying parents to assign their rights to someone else provides that the custody order in place before the deploying parent left must go back into effect when he returns. If a court made temporary orders while a parent was deployed, the parents may have to go back to court to determine a permanent custody arrangement.

Long-Term Changes Based on Deployments

Many states, like California and Ohio, do not allow courts to make custody decisions based solely on a parent's military service. Courts in those states cannot make long-term custody changes, such as modifications of a previous custody order, based primarily on a parent's deployment or other aspects of military service. However, since courts make custody decisions based on the child's best interests, a court can consider such factors as the stability of the child's home and the closeness of his relationship with each parent. Thus, military service can influence custody arrangements, or changes in those arrangements, even if the court does not make its decision based on military service itself.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Custody Rights of Deployed Soldiers

References

Related articles

Can My Ex-Husband Stop Child Support If He Has the Kids While I'm Deployed?

If you were in the military at the time of your divorce, it's possible that your original custody and support orders address what happens in the event that you are deployed. If not, you typically have to return to court for new custody and support orders, and your ex-spouse must continue to pay child support until a new order is in place.

Problems That Arise With Child Custody Cases

In establishing a custody arrangement, courts look to several factors outlined in state law to determine the best interests of the child. After the court makes this determination, however, situations can arise that make the original arrangement unworkable. You may need to call upon the court to modify a custody agreement if circumstances in your life change, such as if you need to move out of state, or it becomes clear that the current arrangement is not in your child's best interests.

Florida Law for Shared Custody of Minor Children

Emotions tend to run high in custody proceedings and parents often lose sight of what's best for their children. Florida has enacted several laws designed to protect the best interests of these children. Judges may consider factors such as the child's adjustment to her current environment, the parenting skills of each parent and the ability and willingness of each parent to help the child maintain a relationship with the other parent. Any history of domestic violence or child abuse weighs against the abusive parent in custody determinations. Florida favors family unity and judges frequently order some variety of shared custody. Parents can also jointly agree to a shared parenting arrangement.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Get a Divorce While in the Military: Who Keeps the Kids?

Many divorcing couples struggle over issues involving their children and these struggles may be particularly difficult ...

Continuous Addiction & Child Custody

Habitual dependence on drugs or alcohol can call into question a person's ability to make good decisions, as well as ...

Who May File for Joint Custody of a Minor?

Laws regarding child custody vary between jurisdictions. State laws and statutes govern how the court awards custody ...

Who Gets the Kids in a Divorce in Missouri?

Who gets the kids is usually one of the preeminent questions in a divorce. Many divorces come down to this issue alone ...

Browse by category