Military divorce raises complex child custody issues

Arizona members of the U.S. military understand when they sign up that they will be making many personal sacrifices. They spend months or years away from their loved ones and often feel out of place when they return. What they may not expect is that their service would affect child custody issues if their marriages end in military divorce.

Theoretically, one's status as a member of the armed forces should not result in the loss of custody of the children. However, because the standard for deciding custody issues is the best interests of the children, many factors must be considered when a court rules on a parenting schedule. While its intentions may be to provide a balance of time for the children to spend with each parent, the court may see deployment and relocation as a disruption to a child's life.

In some situations, there is no avoiding the reality of military life and its effect on the children. Divorced parents who are both in the military may have to create a family care plan to outline their wishes for the children during deployments. The plan designates caretakers for short and long-term situations as well as specific instructions for the care and well-being of the children. Such plans also include power of attorney designations.

Arizona parents expecting to go through a military divorce would do well to seek the guidance of a skilled attorney who has experience in military law. Because of the delicate issues involved when child custody matters are in question, it is wise to have a legal advocate. Additionally, an experienced attorney can ensure one's rights are protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act when family law issues arise during deployment.

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