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3 considerations for military fathers in child custody spats

Even in the best of circumstances, child custody disputes can become tense. When you are in the military, the situation can become even more complicated. However, there are some key things you need to know, which can help make the process easier and simpler for your family. 

Visitation orders can be flexible

Not all visitation and custody orders have to be firm. You can work out a flexible order that can take your ever-changing military schedule into account. Typically, you should let your child's mother know your schedule in advance so that you and she can make plans for you to get your child when you are able. In some cases, such as if your duty station is in another state or not close enough for frequent in-person visits, you might be able to consider virtual visitation to keep in contact with your child. This enables you to use video chats and other similar methods to interact with your child on a regular basis.

Deployments have special guidelines

While you are deployed, you might opt to have someone else in your family spend time with your child on your behalf. You can opt to have this put into the child custody order. The court would consider whom you want to take your time and whether this is in your child's best interests.

Another option that you have is to make up missed visits and time with your child before you are deployed or when you return. If you and your ex can't work something out, you may have to turn to the court for clear guidance on what needs to happen. Virtual visitation in this situation is also possible if you have access to the technology necessary.

Child support orders are handled through allotments

If you are ordered to pay child support, this will usually be handled through an allotment. The money would come out of your paycheck before it hits your bank account. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service needs a copy of the order for child support. Once the order is entered, the allotments will continue until the final payment date noted in the order or when a new court order is entered into the system. You should make sure that DFAS always has the most up-to-date order pertaining to support payments.

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