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Custody for Military Parents: Part 3 of 3

Military Parents and Relocation

Part of being in the military is having very limited input as to where you are stationed. If you are a military parent who is not with your child’s other parent, this can mean moving far away from them. A move  like that can have a major impact on the custody of your children.

No matter where you are stationed, it is important to reach out to a civilian family law attorney when dealing with custody. Custody is civilian law, and your JAG corps will not be able to help you very much. Which court has jurisdiction over your child is usually based on where your child has lived for the past six months. If you have moved around often due to military service, it may be difficult to determine what court you should file in without the help of an experienced attorney.

If you had children when you joined the military, you should have been asked to fill out a Family Care Plan outlining what will happen if you are deployed or stationed away from your family. You may have also discussed and agreed on a plan with the other parent, or even wrote up a plan and signed it. These plans can be a good guide for the future, but they are not legal documents. They cannot be enforced if the other parent chooses not to follow them.

Planning Ahead

It is always best to plan ahead for relocations or deployments if you are in the military. When you are establishing an initial Custody Order, whether through an agreement or a hearing, you should include a plan for being relocated or deployed. Will your children be able to go with you if you move to a new base? If not, what visitation will you get? Will someone else, like your family members, have visitation or be allowed to help with your child’s care if you are deployed? These are only a few of the big questions that you need to think about during the custody process.

Coming to Agreement with Your Child’s Other Parent

If you are being relocated to a place where your child could potentially live with you and you don’t have a Custody Order with a plan in place, you need to modify your custody order to address your move. You cannot move your children away from the area where they live without the agreement of their other parent or a court order.

Ideally, you and your child’s other parent can come to an agreement, either independently or though mediation. The court will sign off on that changed agreement, and the issue with be settled. If you aren’t able to agree, you will have to appeal to the courts to determine whether you are able to take your children with you to your new station. Many courts are hesitant to allow one parent to remove a child from the area where they live over the other parent’s objection, so it is almost always better to reach an agreement with the other parent in these situations.

As a parent, being relocated away from your child can be scary and stressful. One of Woodruff Law Firm’s Family Law Specialists can help you explore your options for making sure you are able to spend as much time as possible with your child.