Serving in the military is life-changing in many ways. Training and deployment keep service members from their families for a long time. These periods away can create physical and emotional distance between spouses. Sadly, many military members find themselves embroiled in divorce after returning home. When child custody is at stake, the fallout is even more complicated.
Soldiers who choose a life dedicated to protecting the United States should not need to worry about losing their children in divorce. There are options in place to protect service members’ parental rights.
Establish a family care plan
The Department of Defense requires a family care plan for active service people who could have potential custody issues with their children. The DOD requires active-duty or reserve members who fit the following criteria to file this agreed-upon arrangement with their respective military branches:
- Single parents
- Parents with shared custody
- Married couples whose children have different biological parents
- Couples who are both in the service and have dependents
In the plan, soldiers detail who will care for their children if they must relocate. These plans are not legally binding documents, so exes could still challenge them in a custody dispute.
Ask for a stay
The court may issue a stay, or delay, in child custody cases when an active-duty parent is away with the armed forces. A parent’s deployment status cannot play a role in permanent child custody rulings. However, parents can challenge temporary custody rulings during active deployment.
Soldiers should always work with an attorney to defend their interests during a divorce.