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Protecting your parental rights re post-divorce travel with kids

As a member of the U.S. military, you undoubtedly understand how challenging it can be to balance career with family life. The armed forces are not immune to high rates of divorce, so if you have recently ended your own marriage, know that there are likely many others, perhaps even among your Virginia unit, who have done the same.  

You can update your family military care plan to include instructions regarding your co-parenting agreement in divorce. A question many military parents have is whether a spouse can take a child out of state or abroad at any time once the court issues a final divorce decree. There is not set answer since state laws vary and your specific care plan and/or court order impacts your family's situation. A key to avoiding major problems lies in knowing where to seek support if trouble arises. 

Vacation versus kidnapping 

Taking a child out of Virginia to another state or overseas on vacation is one thing. Parental abduction is quite another. Your relationship with your former spouse is hopefully amicable enough that you are both willing to cooperate and adhere to existing court orders to protect your child's best interests. If that's not the case, and you believe your child is in danger of kidnapping, you may seek the court's immediate intervention.  

Even custodial parents do not have free rein for travel 

If your child's custodial parent is trying to take him or her out of state or abroad during a time that you are scheduled to have visitation, you may request the court's assistance to stop travel plans, that is, if you are unable or unwilling to adjust your visitation schedule. Even if you agree to changing your visit dates, the court must approve any and all changes to a previously agreed upon schedule.  


Your military career may require you to move from place to place. If you want your children to relocate with you or your ex has custody and wants to move far away from your current station, you may wish to seek negotiation support rather than try to battle it out on your own.

There are also laws in place to protect anyone from entering litigation against you regarding custody, support or visitation if you are serving active duty and unable to be present in court. You can protect your rights as a military parent while ensuring your child's best interests are kept in mind regarding permanent relocation or any other child-related issue in divorce.

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