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.

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.

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.

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

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

Child Custody: Criteria for a Custodial Parent

During the divorce process, state courts may determine how to divide child custody between the divorcing parents, if the parents cannot come to their own arrangement. Each state sets its own rules for how custody can be divided, including the criteria each court will use to establish a custody arrangement. Generally, parents can agree to their own custody arrangement, but the court will rely on state guidelines, if the parents cannot agree.

Child Custody & Loss of Parental Rights From Drug Abuse

When a parent struggles with drug addiction, his parental rights may be affected. In some cases, child protection agencies may remove a child from a parent’s care if that parent abuses drugs. Likewise, during a divorce, a court may deny a parent custody if he has untreated drug abuse or addiction issues or terminate his parental rights entirely if he does not address his drug abuse problems. Therefore, treating the underlying illness is often key to protecting custody and parental rights.

What Is the Difference Between Child Custody & Parental Rights?

In child custody proceedings, the court assigns the rights and responsibilities for raising a child. The court can allocate custody rights between the parents, but also has the option to assign custody rights to people who are not the parents, such as grandparents. Just being a parent does not assure you of custody time; the court can decide not to give a parent any custody time but still require that parent to fulfill his responsibilities regarding his child, such as financial support. In a divorce, the terms 'child custody' and 'parental rights' are particularly confusing because some courts use them interchangeably.

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 ...

Custody Extradition Laws

Divorcing parents often fight over custody, and sometimes the custody disputes get so heated that one parent runs to ...

New York Statute for Visitation

The best interests of the child is paramount in determinations of child custody in New York. To that end, it is ...

Remarriage & Custody

Remarriage is usually not a reason for a change in custody unless other factors are involved. Parents naturally move on ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED