Does My Civilian Spouse Automatically Get Full Custody?



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Before the divorce becomes final, it is important for a parenting plan’s creation to occur between the two parties for the time and educational purposes of any child or children affected by the separation of parents. When the military spouse faces deployment, the child may need to remain with the non-military parent even if he or she does not have custody.

When the military parent may face deployment, it is important that the other parent has a parenting plan in place that is possible to follow quickly. Many service members are unaware of when deployment may occur unless given orders so many hours in advance. However, when the orders come with a short window, it is important to have a plan in place that is effective and easy. If necessary, the parents may need to involve extended members of the family. However, these instances of quick and immediate deployment may not lend credibility that the military parent will have the necessary time to take care of and raise a child.

Involving the Courts in Custody

While a legal divorce usually requires several processes to complete, custody arrangements may occur without a judge presiding over the matter. However, when the courts have become part of the process in custody concerns, the best interests of the child usually take precedence over which parent is in the military. However, it is still possible for a military parent to retain primary custody of a child unless or until he or she deploys for service. Then, there may exist a transfer with the new spouse, ex-spouse, grandparent or other extended family member depending on the situation.

Joint custody is possible for military parents and nonmilitary ex-spouses. The civilian parent will then take the child on fulltime when the military individual must leave for service. It is in the event that the military parent has sole custody that a transfer of custody is important for deployed personnel. However, having a parenting plan in place will assist in these events. This will assist in explaining to the other parent what should occur and how best to help develop any educational and other projects with the child. This may also explain to extended family why certain trips are important.

The Family Care Plan

It is required to have a family care plan when one service parent is the only parent with custody for any minors under nineteen years of age. This is also necessary when he or she shares custody with another parent that is not married to the service parent. These plans must exist when both parents are part of the military with any youths under nineteen. Both parties must sign the documentation for the family care programs in place. The same needs to occur when the service member is the only caretaker for a young person under the nineteen-year age or any adult member of the family unable to provide his or her own care.

The family care plan should provide the military parent 60 or 90 days to give these documents to a commanding officer. These documents should include what will happen with any children affected by deployment. This will explain short term and long-term care based on how long the parent will remain elsewhere. However, the certain terms and specifics depend and vary based on the different branch of service. Any caregivers to include other parents along with contact information are usually included. Anyone watching or caring for the child needs to be no younger than 21. If the primary person is not available, an alternative should exist in the document.

Custody Arrangements and Legal Support

When the military and civilian parents have finalized all documentation and processes through the courts, the parenting plan and other documentation will provide an outline of what to do and when. The military spouse may acquire full custody after a divorce. However, he or she may have joint custody if deployment occurs often. Arranging for these concerns is important, and any family care plan should detail to the military commanding officer who and where the child will be with and at in the even to active service.

If any violations to the plan or custody arrangements occurs, it is important to hire a lawyer. The legal representative will ensure the military parent is in line with all processes for possible sole or joint custody arrangements. This may even include specific contact and paperwork for commanding officers and other military personnel.


Provided by HG.org


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
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