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Child custody arrangements in a military divorce

Divorce is complicated, even under the most favorable circumstances. While emotions often escalate during child custody, support and property division disputes, matters of co-parenting arrangements may be increasingly difficult for members of the armed forces.

Military members make great sacrifices to serve our country. Agreeing on a parenting time schedule can be difficult for any divorcing couple. But possible military reassignments, deployments and long hours may further complicate your co-parenting efforts.

Considerations for your child custody plan

In addition to what your civilian friends might have told you about their divorce proceedings, there are some additional things to think about during your divorce from a service member. As you and your soon-to-be ex work to establish a child custody or parenting time schedule, these military-related divorce considerations might include:

  • The laws governing your child’s home state
  • How your arrangement could change upon deployment
  • What you’ll do to reestablish a schedule when the deployed service member returns
  • How a job transfer or relocation will affect your arrangement

As a civilian, you will have primary custody of the children during your ex’s deployment. However, upon his or her return home, you cannot keep your ex from the children based solely on their absence from the children’s lives due to following orders.

As you and your spouse divide your family unit, remember that your arrangements may need to be fluid depending on certain job requirements. And even though your former spouse may be called away for extended periods of time, it’s important for them to maintain their relationship with the children. Allowing some flexibility can help keep the best interests of your children at the center of your custody and parenting time agreements.