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Military deployment and child custody: The reality

When you're getting a divorce, you want to make sure your children get the best of both worlds. You want them to get time with you and the other parent while also feeling supported and having a stable routine. This is sometimes difficult, especially if you're about to be deployed.

Deployment adds an extra layer of complications to a custody plan. For instance, if you are deployed, who is responsible for your child's care? What happens if your child gets sick? Who becomes an emergency contact?

Deployment and caring for your child

Although being in the military won't likely affect your right to custody, you should carefully consider whether or not you can be there for your child when he or she needs it. Even if you're frustrated by having to give up time with your child, it may be in your child's best interests to live with the parent who does not deploy. That way, his or her routine does not need to change throughout the year, or more frequently.

If you do want primary or full custody, you'll need to sit down and determine who will take care of your children if you are deployed. For most people, it's clear that the ex-wife or ex-husband will take over the job of caring for the children. However, if that parent can't take on the responsibility, you'll have to appoint someone else.

Create a family care plan and file it with the Department of Defense at your local service branch. You should also keep a copy and may want to leave a copy with your attorney. This plan should have information on who your child will stay with, who takes over the role of an emergency contact and even what others can decide for your children while you're gone.

One good thing to keep in mind is that, even if you're deployed, no one can change your custody arrangements permanently without you knowing about it. That means that you don't have to worry about your ex-spouse seeking permanent or full legal custody when you're not there to defend your rights.

It is often hard to deal with divorces, and a military divorce has its own complications and factors to consider. Your attorney can help protect your rights if you're not in the country and help you guarantee that your children will be taken care of while you're gone.

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