As a resident of Virginia who serves in one of the nation's armed forces, you understand what it's like to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the nation. As a military service member who also happens to be a parent, you know that personal sacrifice and parenting often go hand in hand. In many ways, family life as a member of the U.S. military is not that much different from family life as a civilian.
However, with matters having to do with child custody and other divorce-related issues, things may not only be quite different but rather complicated as well. It's all the more reason to gain clear understanding of your rights as a military parent and to know how to quickly access support to protect your rights and your children's best interests if a problem arises, especially while you're deployed.
Understand that your military status may affect custody
Those who advocate on behalf of military parents in Virginia or elsewhere often say the scales are unfairly tipped and such parents experience discrimination in child custody situations because of their careers. The following information may be useful as you try to navigate a custody situation while on active duty:
- Your family care plan is one of your greatest assets to help resolve child custody issues while you serve on active duty, especially if you deploy overseas. This plan is customizable and may include any and all details and instructions you have laid out for short-term and long-term care providers to whom you entrust your children while you're away.
- You may worry that the court will view your deployment as a situation that makes you unsuitable to be a primary caretaker of your children. A thorough, updated family care plan may help you avoid major problems in this area.
- There are laws in place to protect you against custody or support-related court actions while you serve a deployment.
- If you are a single parent, you may need outside support to help you address custody-related problems. As you may already know, single parents may not enlist in the U.S. military; however, if you were already serving when you became single, that's another story.
- If you choose someone besides your children's other parent as a caretaker when you deploy, the other parent must consent to your arrangement.
Making sure you have all your bases covered regarding your estate plan, divorce decree, existing custody or support orders, and your family care plan can help you avoid many problems during active duty as well as when you're stateside in Virginia.