You understood that deploying to dangerous areas and dealing with difficult situations was part of the deal when you took an oath to serve in the military, but you probably had no idea just how overwhelming a divorce would feel. Although in theory military divorces should not differ that significantly from civilian divorces, service members typically deal with unique concerns.
Child custody can be a difficult topic for members of the armed forces. You and your spouse might not even live in your state of residence, and you must also consider upcoming moves and potential deployments.
Will my military status count against me?
You may feel understandably worried about the effect of your chosen career on potential child custody matters. The good news is that most judges agree primary caretakers should retain primary custody regardless of their job and its demands. This is because it is usually in the child's best interest to stay with their parent who has done most of the heavy-lifting in parenting.
However, no current legislation prevents judges from revoking custody due to deployment. This is not for lack of trying, as several states have tried to pass laws doing just that. While it is a good idea in theory, it would potentially put the focus on your interests rather than your child's.
Should I worry about child relocation laws?
In a typical custody situation, neither parent is allowed to move the child out of state without express permission from the court. Your situation obviously requires a more delicate approach. The military might order you to move to a new base with only months' notice -- or even less. Since you know you will deal with these situations, be sure to include provisions that address the issue.
Deployments are another tricky topic you can tackle during your divorce. As a member of the military, you must create something called a family care plan. This document details who will care for your children in the event of a deployment. Your commanding officer must approve your plan, and you must include all of the following:
- Care provision details
- Short-term caretaker
- Long-term caretaker
You can keep custody of your child
Just because you swore an oath to protect your country does not mean that you do not take parenting seriously. Many military members are active and involved parents who perform essential caretaker duties. However, fear of losing time with your child is a real concern.
Leaving something as important as child custody up to chance is not a good idea. When dealing with such serious issues, most parents -- particularly those who are also active duty military -- choose to seek guidance from an attorney who is experienced in Kentucky family law and military divorce.