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The complexities of child custody and military service

Child custody considerations can encounter additional complications in circumstances of military divorces. In general, the process for making child custody determinations is the same for divorcing military couples as divorcing civilian couples and always remain focused on a child custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

Military service, however, can complicate child custody considerations to the extent that possible deployments or relocations must be considered and taken into account. Parental relocation laws typically govern the relocation of a parent with a child a certain distance from the other parent and take into account several factors when determining whether to permit the relocation or not. In situations of military families, child custody agreements can include provisions for what will happen in the event a parent is deployed or relocated.

A family care plan can be established to describe how children will be cared for and by who, especially if the military parent has custody of the children. In many circumstances, a military parent may not receive physical custody because of these concerns. A family care plan should include who the short-term caretaker of the children will be; who the long-term caretaker of the children will be in case of deployment; and include specific provisions for the care of the children.

Child custody concerns can grow somewhat more complex for military families, however, what is in the best interests of the child is always the guiding force for any child custody determination. Military families should be familiar with the resources and requirements to determine child custody and prepare for certain events, such as a deployment, and the ways the resources can help.

Source:, "Military Child Custody: Key Legal Issues," Accessed April 12, 2018

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