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Will my service in the military affect my ability to get custody?

There is a lot about military life that is tough on a couple. Numerous service member spouses choose to call it quits because they cannot take the stress anymore. While there are a number of issues present in military divorces, for those with children figuring out child custody is one of the biggest challenges. How do you split custody when you know the nature of your job will take you away from home more often than you would like?

Technically, military service should not be a factor when it comes to deciding how much time you will get with your kids -- but it really is. Your spouse may use your job as an excuse to get full custody. Nevertheless, just because you are getting a divorce, it does not mean you lose your parental rights. You may just have to fight harder than many civilians for shared or sole custody if you believe it will serve your child's bests interests.

How to create a child custody plan

It does not matter if you are a civilian or a military service member when it comes to creating a child custody plan. You can do it by negotiating an agreement with your spouse or you can do it by going to court and letting a judge decide. Regardless of which route you take, a judge will have to sign off on the order before it goes into effect.

Sole or shared, and the military requirement

The needs of every family are different. There are those who would benefit from having one spouse keep the children full time. There are others, though, for whom a shared custody plan will be best for everyone involved. You have to look at your kids and your time and then decide which serves your needs.

Whether you decide on a shared or sole custody plan, there is one big difference between a civilian child custody plan and a military child custody plan -- the care plan. You never know when deployments will arise, so you need to have a plan in place for who will take care of your children while you are gone. The care plan must include:

  • Short-term caretaker name and contact information
  • Long-term caretaker name and contact information
  • Care instructions

Neither the short-term caretaker nor the long-term caretaker can be a military service member due to the possibility of deployment. However, the short-term caretaker can be the spouse of another military service member as long as he or she lives close to your duty station and is willing to take over the care of the children regardless of whether it is day or night.

Do not fight this fight alone

Your service to the country is to be commended. It should not be an excuse for you to lose access to your children. If you are going through a military divorce, you do not have to fight the good fight alone. With legal assistance you can do all that is necessary to protect your parental rights and seek a custody plan that really serves your family's needs.

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