Does Active Military Service Bar You From Full Custody?

If you serve in the military and face deployment, then it just adds one more layer of complexity to your already complex divorce, especially when it comes to child custody. When the courts make the decision to award custody, they will always keep in mind the best interests of the child. If you are an active member of the military and face the potential for deployment, you may wonder if you can even gain full custody, even if it is in your child’s best interest.

The answer to this worry is, as expected, a complicated one. Fortunately, even if you do face deployment, that prospect won’t bar you from full custody if it is merited. However, the courts will want to strongly consider a joint custody situation if this is the case. Unless your soon-to-be ex-spouse is abusive or has a past history of being wildly negligent, as you have the potential of being deployed, the courts will likely be most amicable to joint custody over full custody.

Joint Custody and Deployment Plans

The most common scenario when sorting out child custody is that both parents will get their fair share of parenting time. When you are not deployed, both you and your civilian ex-spouse will work out a schedule of when you have your children. However, there may be an added clause that states that in the event of your deployment, your spouse will care for the child. Unfortunately, this can be difficult if your ex-spouse decides to move elsewhere and the child still has to go to school in a different area.

Depending on the length of deployment, courts may allow for primary custody to be temporarily transferred to the civilian parent or even to another family member if the courts have rendered the other parent unfit. If extended family is involved, the child may still remain in school in the area, while adhering to the parenting plan and visiting the civilian parent on a set schedule.

Full Custody and Deployment

If the courts have awarded you full custody while an active member of the military and you are looking at a new deployment, you will need to take measures. If you are the sole caretaker of a child and in the military, you will need to file a Family Care Plan with your commanding officer before deployment. This document details what will happen to your minor child in the event of deployment. The document varies depending on the specific branch of the military, but in essence it details the short-term and long-term care that you want for your child. It essentially states where they will be and who they will be with during your deployment and what will happen if the worst should happen.

The person watching your child while deployed can be anyone from a friend to a member of your extended family, so long as they are over 21 years old. Furthermore, if that person is not available during that time frame, you will also need to have an alternative lined up that is willing to look after your child.

Family Care Plans are necessary for full custody holding parents in the military. However, you will want to fill one out even if you have joint custody. This tells your CO at very least that your child is with the other parent during your deployment, and you are fine with that.

Need Help?

Are you an active member of the military going through a divorce? Let us help you. The unfortunate reality is that divorce and child custody is a little more complicated for military members, and it shouldn’t be. Contact us today to see what we can do to help make sure you get what’s fair and your child is taken care of.