Military deployment requires you to relinquish your timesharing arrangements with your child temporarily. A complex matter for all service members, deployment will require you to take the right steps to adhere to your custody agreement requirements.
And, all of the laws are on the state level rather than the federal level.
Many service members enter into deployment and are greeted with a custody battle when they return home. While the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows a postponement of court hearings during deployment, this is still a stressful time for soldiers.
What will happen when a soldier returns home?
They will eventually have to respond to the custody battle and attend a court hearing. However, there are a few points that need to be understood prior to deployment that can help you avoid court battles.
Custodial Rights Relinquishment
Any service member that is deployed for more than 90 days will need to relinquish his or her custody rights to someone else. This also includes not being able to meet the time-sharing agreement as outlined by the courts.
At this time, you can designate a relative to take over your duties.
What will occur is that you’ll need to require a time-sharing modification in court. Your legal right is to alert the child’s other parent of the designation in writing at least 10 days before the hearing takes place.
This will allow you to modify your agreement and have another party take over your duties at this time.
But, you won’t automatically regain your right to custody or time-sharing. Instead, when you return from deployment, you’ll need to go back to court to modify your custody agreement. It’s a very tedious matter, and problems can arise at this time.
The following issues can affect time-sharing when you return home:
- The custodial parent can contest the change
- The child may want to remain with the current legal custodian
If a medical condition or injury occurs that may render you unfit to care for yourself or your child, a lengthy court hearing is likely.
Under the SRCA, some legal protection is granted. The courts cannot use your deployment as a condition of the child’s best interest. Single parent service members will have all of their parental rights protected while serving.
If the opposing parent attempts to change legal custody rights while you’re deployed, you will be protected under the SCRA.
Deployment will require some change in your time-sharing agreement. If the other parent of the child fights the custodial agreement change, a seasoned lawyer will be able to work with you to come to a proper and fair agreement.
While on deployment, you won’t be able to see your child, but you will be allowed to regain time-sharing rights when you return home from duty. It’s up to the courts in every state to decide how an agreement will change when you arrive home. Some legal issues may arise if the other parent contests a custodial agreement change, or if the child requests to remain on the current agreement.
Discussing your options with a divorce lawyer that specializes in military divorces is the best option. The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has significant experience working with military families. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.