What happens if I’m in the Military, have children and am then deployed? How do I continue to have visitation with my children? How will this affect the other parent’s visitation rights or custody?
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Military Member Child Custody and Visitation
A military member child custody and visitation schedule with their children is affected by the member’s military status
Military Member Child Custody During Military Duty
A military member child custody arrangement can be effected if they are deployed, activated to military duty,or mobilized for combat support. Absence a relocation, this by it self, is not grounds for the other parent to seek a modification order for your failure to follow a custody or visitation order. However, if you are the custodial parent whose military assignment requires you to move a significant distance, this would have a significant effect on the other parent’s visitation rights and would be sufficient grounds for a modification.
Return from Military Duty
If a military member child custody and visitation schedule was modified because they were required to deploy, the modification order will be considered a temporary custody order that will be reconsidered upon their return. The court will assume that the temporary, modified custody order will change back to the original order that was in place before the modification (unless the judge determines that it is not in the best interest of the child). Additionally, in the temporary custody order, the court will take whatever steps that may be appropriate to make sure that the moving parent can keep regular and continuing contact with their child.
Visitation for Relatives of a Deployed Member
You can file a request with the court to give visitation rights to a step-parent, grandparent, or other family members. The court will grant visitation if the following conditions are met:
- There is a pre-existing relationship and bond between the family member and the child;
- The purpose of visitation is to help with the child’s contact with the absent parent; and,
- Upon balancing, visitation with the family member outweighs the need for the parents to use their parental authority.
Court Hearing for Military Members
Should you be deployed, mobilized, or assigned to temporary duty, and cannot attend a court hearing, the court can take any of the following actions:
- Inquire why the court was not notified of this event;
- Move the hearing to accommodate the member before they have to leave;
- Postpone the hearing until the member returns; or,
- Allow the parent to present testimony and evidence and participate in court-ordered child custody mediation by telephone, video teleconferencing, or the Internet.
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