Child Custody Considerations for Members of the Military

Child Custody Considerations for Members of the Military

October 04, 2016

Military divorce can result in difficult circumstances for service member parents. The demands of military life can make a regular visitation schedule difficult, to say the least—especially when the parent is deployed in another country or stationed a considerable distance away.

Unfortunately, frequent relocation and deployment can even result in temporary waiving of custody rights. When this occurs, a returning parent may be facing a difficult custody battle. These situations put incredible strain on parent-child relationships, which an experienced family law attorney can mitigate.

Read our blog below to learn about the specific issues you may be facing!

Child Custody & Relocation

If your current agreement does not have a specific section dealing with military relocation, consider modifying the agreement with a child custody attorney. We can help you work with the court to add a provision to maintain your parental rights no matter your location or availability.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • State laws will dictate custody arrangements usually, not federal statutes.
  • When requesting permission to relocate with your child, the judge will determine custody based on state statutes.
  • In some cases, you may be asked to demonstrate how a relocation will benefit your child before receiving approval.
  • Some states forbid relocation without special circumstances or compelling reasons.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects your legal rights when you’re called to active duty. The act applies to:

  • Active-duty members of the regular force
  • National Guard members when serving on active-duty under federal orders
  • Members of the reserve called to active duty
  • Members of the Coast Guard serving on active duty in support of the armed forces

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, you can:

  • Postpone a court or administrative hearing if your duties prevent your ability to proceed
  • Receive an automatic 90-day postponement when requesting a postponement in writing

Note: any postponement needed beyond the initial 90-days is provided at the judge’s discretion (or the officer presiding over the hearing).

The postponement protection, however, won’t protect you in a criminal case—only custody cases. For example, if your spouse takes advantage of your deployment in order to change the child custody agreement in your absence, you can invoke postponement in order to protect your parenting rights.

If you have any other questions about your rights as a parent in the military, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. The Edgar & Dow is always here to answer questions and help guide you through tough situations.  


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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