Fighting For Child Custody As An Active Military Parent

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Undergoing a custody battle is never easy but, as a military parent, you likely have concerns and circumstances that are simply not shared by the average citizen. You are likely wondering whether you might suffer custody restrictions if you are being deployed or how you can protect your time with your child while you are busy protecting your country.

The lawyers of Youngblood Law, PLLC, understand the implications of custody law as it applies to active military parents in Texas, and we outline what you need to know below. If you are concerned about your chances with custody, read on to discover how the law might apply to your unique circumstances.

Arranging Custody As A Military Member

If there is one thing you must know about arranging child custody, it’s the fact that the court will always seek to do what they believe is in the best interest of the child. The child’s best interest takes precedence over all else, and the notion of best interest will be evaluated based on the individual needs of each child and family. The general belief holds that it is important for the child to have access to both parents in order to promote healthy childhood development.

If you are a military service member and seeking primary custody, you might wonder if your occupation will impact the court’s decision. The answer? Not necessarily. Although your availability to care for your child might play a factor in the court’s decision, you will be reassured to know that your spouse cannot use your military career or deployment as grounds for sole custody.

If you are currently divorcing or deciding on child custody, one of the best things you can do to save yourself future headaches is work out in mediation what will happen with your child in the event that you are deployed or need to relocate. Having this agreement in place and built into your child custody arrangement will make life easier for everyone down the line.

Additionally, it is likely that you have a Family Care Plan in place, which can also address the needs of your family while you are away. While this document is helpful for caregivers, it is not legally binding and cannot change an existing custody order. However, it can establish some level of precedent or expectation for the specifics of your custody arrangement in the event that you are deployed or relocated. Collaborating on these specifics with the help of your co-parent is most ideal and would help smooth over any foreseeable complications.

If you do not have proper provisions in your custody arrangement and are currently facing the prospect of deployment or relocation, read on for more information about what you can do in the here and now.

Deployment As A Military Parent

When it comes to child custody and active military parents, issues concerning deployment and relocation are huge concerns. When you serve in the military, you can be expected to make big moves, sometimes without much warning.

If you are a primary caregiver for your child and you are being deployed, either you or your co-parent can request a temporary order from the court, which will allow the custodial parent to designate a caregiver for the child. There are three options for this caregiver, and the court’s preference for them are in order as follows:

  • The non-custodial parent or co-parent of the child
  • A person who is chosen by the primary caregiver
  • A person chosen by the court

If you are not the primary caregiver but still retain visitation rights, you can also designate a person to temporarily take over your visitation schedule. However, in order to select the person of your choice, you need to demonstrate to the court that it is in the best of interest of your child for this person to assume your visitation schedule. The court can also modify the specifics of this schedule on a temporary basis.

Your temporary custody agreement can also have provisions for electronic communication so that you can designate time to speak with your child over the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.

It’s important to try to maintain a cordial relationship with your co-parent, if possible, so that you can be on the same page when rearrangements such as this one are necessary.

Relocation As A Military Parent

Sometimes being in the military necessitates moving on short notice, which means you might be required to relocate states or even countries away from where your child resides. There might be cases where you need to move, your co-parent needs to move, or the spouse of your co-parent needs to move.

When it comes to the court and joint custody child care arrangements, they take the terms of the arrangement quite seriously. The typical child custody arrangement will mandate that you must continue to live within a certain geographical range until your child comes of age in order to comply with custody orders.

So what are your options for when your career requires that you move far away? Can you just take your kid with you and ask for forgiveness rather than permission? Well, of course not.

Your options are going to depend largely on the specifics of your circumstances and your custody arrangement. If you share custody with your co-parent, you might not have many options for your move, but there are some possibilities available to you:

  • Ask the court for a child custody modification. This option might not work out in your favor since you have already agreed to a certain set of possession orders, and the court might determine that you are risking the child’s stability and their time with the other parent. However, there are situations in which the court might decide that continuing to reside with you is in the best interest of the child, and your request could be granted!
  • Ask your co-parent for sole custody. Again, there is not a lot of likelihood in this option if your co-parent still wants to have involvement in your child’s life.
  • In the best case scenario, you will have established a protocol for relocation when you and your ex created the child custody agreement. However, if you have not, your options are limited.

If you have a military co-parent who wants to relocate with your child, on the other hand, you should speak to your lawyer in the event that they file for a child custody modification so that you know your options for fighting it.

Youngblood Law Can Walk You Through All Of Your Custody Concerns

Whether you are in the military, your ex is in the military, or you are simply an ordinary civilian looking for support with your child custody modification, Youngblood Law, PLLC, can provide you with the necessary insights. We have worked with many families and we always do what we can to support you in making decisions and fighting for the options that will be most beneficial to your child. If you have any questions, reach out to schedule a free initial consultation and learn how we can make a difference for you and your child.

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