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Military parents have custody rights

As a member of the military, you are no stranger to sacrifice. You have undergone rigorous training, endured long periods separated from loved ones and accepted the duties that your superiors assign to you. When it comes to your children, however, you may not be as willing to sacrifice your time with them.

If you are dealing with child custody issues, you likely understand that your military service may negatively affect your efforts to obtain a custody arrangement that gives you equitable time with your children. Child custody matters are complex in the best of circumstances, and you may be concerned about protecting your rights. The first step is understanding how your service to your country plays into custody decisions.

Best interests of the children

Family courts in Texas and across the country attempt to make custody decisions that are in the best interests of the children. In most cases, the courts understand that equal time with both parents benefits the children provided there is no evidence of abuse or neglect. Of course, it may be too much to expect equal time if you are suddenly deployed or stationed out of state.

Additionally, courts may rule that the risk of your sudden deployment may not be in the best interests of your children. As disruptive as deployment is for your life, the courts know that your deployment can be just as disruptive to your child. You may find it a difficult fight if you intend to seek primary custody of your children while you are an active member of the military.

Making a plan

This does not mean you cannot share custody with your child's other parent. However, you and your spouse can provide some measure of security for your children by establishing a family care plan in the event you are deployed. A family care plan can do the following:

  • Name someone, ideally your child's other parent, to be available to care for the children at a moment's notice
  • Designate someone to care for the children for the long term while you are deployed should your co-parent become unable to care for them
  • Leave instructions for the care of your children, including schedules, emergency phone numbers, medical information and account passwords
  • Assign a power of attorney for your financial and legal interests

Your custodial and visitation rights can be preserved while you are deployed if you are able to maintain contact with your children through technological means. You may also be able to have more time with the children upon your return to make up for the missed time while you were away. These options should not be taken for granted, and your attorney can help you include them in your custody agreement.

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