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What are your child custody rights if you are deployed?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2021 | Child Custody

Military servicemembers based at Davis Monthan Air Force Base perform a great service to our country. Unfortunately, long deployments and frequent relocations can be hard on an Air Force member’s marriage and may ultimately lead to divorce. Divorce can be very distressing if you have children. Military servicemembers may be especially concerned about how deployment or relocation will affect their child custody rights.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act can help servicemembers who are served with divorce papers while deployed. The Act allows servicemembers to get a postponement of court proceedings if their deployment is materially affecting their ability to appear in court. A 90-day automatic stay will be granted to servicemembers who request protection under the Act in writing. The judge then has the discretion to issue an additional 90-day stay if appropriate.

Child custody in a military divorce

State law dictates how child custody issues will be handled in a military divorce, and all states offer one or more of the following protections. First, previous absences, current absences or possible future absences due to military service cannot serve as the only basis for modifying an existing child custody order. Second, no permanent orders modifying existing child custody arrangements can be made while the custodial parent is unable to be available due to military service. Finally, the child custody order that was in place prior to the military parent’s absence will be reinstated when the military parent returns unless doing so would not be in the child’s best interests. The non-absent parent carries the burden of proof in such cases.

Learn more about child custody in Arizona

Military parents may have many child custody concerns if they are facing divorce or are already divorced and are facing deployment or relocation. Fortunately, help is available in such situations. Our firm’s website on child custody may be of interest to those who want to learn more about their rights and options.