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Child custody orders if one parent is serving in the military

Child custody is often a difficult issue for parents to get through in Washington State. There are many factors that go into parenting time, the best interests of the child, how the parents deal with one another and much more. Personal circumstances often affect emotions and how the parties deal with the situation. One particular issue that can arise is if one parent is a member of the military.

The law regarding this issue says that if one parent is a member of the military and is given orders that will influence their responsibilities as a parent, the courts can grant a hearing to temporarily alter the plan. This hearing does not necessarily have to have the military member in court personally - it can be done electronically if that is requested and required. While the military parent is away, the court can allow another adult who is deemed suitable, and who has a prior relationship with the child, to have the residential time that the military parent was going to have. This must be in the best interests of the child and it does not create permanent visitation rights for the other adult once the military member returns from duty.

When the military parent returns, the parenting plan can be restored. There must be appropriate notice given to the other parent and it must be given no more than ten days after the military parent's return. If there is immediate danger to the child, the other parent can file a motion in that regard. Time that the military parent did not spend with the child while on duty cannot be counted against the residential time. The military duties cannot be used, solely, as a reason to make a permanent change to the child custody agreement.

Those who are serving in the military might seem to have their main focus on their job, but they also have personal lives, marriages and children. These marriages could end in the couple parting ways and having to come to an agreement with child custody. Deployment or other duties that a military member faces can make that process difficult. Those who are in the military or married to a member of the military and have concerns about child custody issues should speak to an attorney.

Source: Washington Courts, "What if one of the parents is in the military? Page 15," accessed on Sept. 22, 2015

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