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Service members have unique child custody issues

Parents who are in the military have unique child custody needs that must be dealt with appropriately if they aren't married to a civilian who can handle things while they are gone on deployments or assignments. When a parent who serves in the military is trying to figure out child custody plans, there are several considerations that must be taken into account.

One issue that can come up is how visitation and similar matters will be handled. The very nature of military service means that there will likely need to be some flexibility in the schedule that is followed not only because of changing schedules, but also because of changing locations.

Another issue that has to be addressed is the relocation of the military member. When they are sent orders to move to a new duty station, military members can't refuse because of a child custody issue. Instead, they have to prepare to move and make plans to handle what needs to be handled. The child custody order should address how custody will be handled in this case.

Military members who are custodial parents and aren't married to a child's other biological or adoptive parent will also need a family care plan. The family care plan spells out exactly what will happen if the service member is deployed or sent on an assignment that doesn't allow the child to go with him or her. This plan usually has to be updated annually.

Federal and state laws do provide some protections for members of the military. Knowing what protections you have and understanding how to invoke them can help you if you are in the midst of a child custody battle that is affected by your service to this country.

Source: Military One Source, "Child Custody Considerations for Members of the Military," accessed Sep. 14, 2016

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