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You love your child. You love your country. You’re willing to fight for both. So, how do you manage when your biggest conflicts are those between your child and your career?

Military parents who get divorced face some extra custody challenges that civilian parents never have to worry about. This is largely due to the chaotic and sometimes dangerous nature of your job. But some careful planning should help you easily overcome these challenges.

Extra hurdles for you to overcome

Every parent who gets divorced must grapple with custody questions. In that way, you’re no different from anyone else. Your former spouse may try to use the instability or dangers of your career against you. However, most states reward your service with laws that block courts from putting too much weight on your potential deployment.

However, your custody concerns can go well beyond the normal issues. They may include:

  • A family care plan. You may be expected or encouraged to create a family care plan that provides others with all the schedules, medical information, passwords and other information they need to care for your child in your absence.
  • Custody provisions for your relocation. When you get the order to relocate, you can’t just ignore it. But such an order could send you hundreds or thousands of miles away from your child’s other parent. This will almost certainly break any custody order that doesn’t properly anticipate your relocation. With some good planning, you can make it easier to modify the order as needed.
  • Family time during your deployment. It’s likely you’re not the only one who’s eager for time with your child. Your parents and relatives may also want time with their grandchild, nephew or niece. Most likely, when you leave on deployment, your ex will get all the parenting time. But you may be able to work for a custody agreement that leaves time for the grandparents even while you’re away.

Due to these challenges—and others—child custody can work quite differently for military parents. Still, every state has laws to protect your parental rights. The problem is that they vary from state to state and can get confusing, especially when you or your ex relocate.

You shouldn’t have to choose between your child and your career

There are ways your military career may complicate your relationship with your child, but it should never come between you. Instead, you’ll find challenges to overcome, and as a military professional, you should be ready to overcome them.

That said, no one expects you to understand all the legal intricacies yourself. You want the guidance of an experienced military divorce lawyer.