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Miltiary deployment might affect child custody and visitation

Members of the military face unique challenges when it comes to child custody and visitation matters. When orders are handed down for a deployment or even a temporary change of duty station, members of the military have to either pack up and go or face serious consequences. For service men and women who have child custody agreements, the move can pose unique challenges.

When a service member is ordered to move, it isn't always necessary or possible for child custody orders to be changed. Generally, if the military member is the custodial parent, a move far away that hinders the noncustodial parent's ability to visit the child or use his or her custody rights might require a modification of the child custody agreement.

When a child custody agreement is modified because of a parent's military duty orders, the modification is temporary. In most cases, the order will revert back to the original order when the military parent returns from the duty orders. Of course, that all depends on what the judge determines is in the child's best interest.

In an effort to keep the child in contact with family members, the military parent can petition the court to allow his or her visitation time with the child to be given to another family member, such as a stepparent or grandparent. The judge will take a variety of points into consideration to determine if that is the best thing for the child.

Being in the military means having to make some tough decisions and work through some difficult situations. That is true in family life and work life. For military members, working to understand laws specific to the military might help them to decide on a course of action.

Source: WomensLaw.org, "The effect of military deployment on custody/visitation," accessed March. 27, 2015

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