Custody arrangements are often the most complex issue a couple faces when they decide to end their marriage. This is especially true for military families. What should servicemembers know about military service and their parenting plan?
Can servicemembers maintain custody of their child?
Because of the demands of military service, servicemembers may wonder whether they can maintain a strong relationship with their child after divorce. Thankfully, under Arizona law, the court attempts to give both parents as much time as possible with their child as long as that arrangement is in the child’s best interest. As a result, your custody arrangement will generally work within the constraints of your military career to maximize the time you spend with your child.
How can servicemembers address deployment or relocation?
Deployments, temporary duty assignments, training and relocations due to reassignment can all impact the workability of a parenting plan. Thankfully, most military families are aware of the challenges that deployment or relocation can bring. This allows you to establish a plan for parenting time ahead if your military service takes you from the area before it is needed.
For example, your parenting plan might include guidelines for virtual parenting time in the case of relocation or deployment. Additionally, a family care plan can help you prepare for deployments on little notice by naming a caregiver for your child ahead of time. For some servicemembers, establishing a family care plan is a requirement for their branch of service, and failure to create a plan could result in punishment.
When you are temporarily deployed or relocated a significant distance away, Arizona law also allows you to request that your parenting time be granted to another family member or individual your child has a close relationship with (such as a grandparent or stepparent). This further allows you to meet the demands of your military service without disrupting the parenting plan you have in place for your child. The court will largely consider your child’s best interests when approving or denying such a request.
While servicemembers and their families may face additional challenges when determining child custody, with proper planning and foresight they can still create an arrangement that protects both the servicemembers’ parental rights and the child’s well-being.