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How Can Military Divorce Affect Your Custody Agreement?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

blog-logoChild custody is complicated enough in a civilian divorce, but when you are serving in the military it can be downright confusing.  It’s not that a military spouse cannot argue for custody in a military divorce, but there has always been an unspoken assumption that military members would not win a custody battle.  That may have been true when men made up a larger portion of the military, but apparently it is no longer the case.

It has already been proven that the mere fact of military service is not enough to prevent a a judge from awarding full custody.  Similarly, a civilian parent cannot argue that he or she should be the custodial parent simply because they are not in the military. For example, a female service member seeking custody might argue that the military dependent family can take advantage of excellent child care, better school systems and a safe, supportive environment on base.  Compared to civilian life, these advantages are very attractive because they are all available free of charge.  Most consumer goods are also available at greatly reduced prices from the Post Exchange (PX) on base.

When awarding custody in a military divorce, it is important for both spouses to recognize that the needs of military service come first.  As a result, spouses must remain cooperative with one another in the event of a sudden overseas deployment.   That said, family court judges still must consider the best interest of the child in making a decision about custody in a military divorce.  The courts may consider many factors, including each parent’s willingness to provide for the child’s physical, emotional and intellectual well-being.  The demands of military service are only one factor of many that will be considered in a custody decision.

Sometimes a military divorce occurs when both parents are in the military, which can really throw a wrench into proposed parenting schedules.  Fortunately, the military cooperates in cases where both parents are military service members by preventing their simultaneous deployment. 

When a parent is deployed, a Department of Defense directive, requires service members, civilian military employees, and their family members who are outside the United States to comply with court orders requiring the return of minor children who are subject to a court order on custody or visitation.

There are many nuances in a military divorce that your attorney can explain in more detail. Before you move forward with a custody decision in a military divorce, make sure you avoid making assumptions.  An experienced military divorce lawyer can help you come to an agreement on custody that works best for your family.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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