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Adapting Child Custody Agreements for Military Families in California

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How Does Military Service Affect Child Custody in California?

If you’re a military member going through a divorce, you may be torn between your obligations to your country and your children. You may worry that your work schedule and location may make sharing physical custody of your children impossible. Luckily, California has legal protections for military members in child custody matters.

Family law attorneys in San Diego can guide you in choosing a parenting plan that serves the best interests of your children while protecting your parenting rights. Skilled lawyers understand the unique family law issues that active duty military personnel face and can help you navigate the potential high conflict that may arise in your custody battle.

What Standard Things Should a Military Parenting Plan Cover?

A military parenting plan should cover the same issues as a regular parenting plan, in addition to topics directly related to military service. The plan should cover the child’s physical, financial, and emotional support. Generally, the parenting plan should cover:

  • Details on custody, such as joint or sole
  • Visitation schedule, including holidays and vacations
  • Travel arrangements and transport costs, if applicable
  • Communication methods and schedules between parents and children
  • Medical coverage costs
  • Child care arrangement costs
  • Schooling arrangements and extracurricular participation

Once you sort out the standard parenting plan topics, you can focus on how your military involvement will affect your child’s life after the divorce. Skilled military divorce lawyers in San Diego can help you navigate complex military deployment and mobilization issues.

What is the Effect of Military Deployment on Child Custody Determination?

Military deployment can disrupt existing custody arrangements, and you may wonder how to get visitation if you’re away on military duty. You may also be unable to attend a hearing due to service obligations. Consult experienced San Diego military divorce lawyers for legal guidance for whatever challenge you face in your custody case.

Effect of Military Deployment on an Existing Permanent Child Custody Order

If a permanent child custody order is in place before your deployment, the court will consider various factors before modifying the child custody order. The child’s health, safety, stability, need for continuity, welfare, and relationship with each parent are crucial factors.

The military service is unique, so the California legislature passed Family Code Section 3047 into law to provide the following safeguards for military parents:

Visitation Rights During Military Deployment

Judges must give special consideration to ensure a service member can visit and maintain contact with their child during deployment. As long as it’s in the best interests of the child, any temporary modification must have room for:

  • Visitation when the deployed parent is on leave
  • Contact between the child and the deployed parent during the deployment.

Granting Visitation Rights to Certain Family Members

The court may give reasonable visitation rights to a grandparent, uncle, aunt, stepparent, or other family member under certain circumstances upon a formal request by the relocating parent. The arrangement can make the deployment more manageable for the child if the judge determines a substantial bond between the child and the family member being granted visitation rights.

Absenteeism Due to Military Duties

If a parent has been absent or failed to comply with custody and visitation orders due to activation to military duty, deployment, or mobilization, their absence or failure shall not be a reason enough to modify the custody orders.

However, if the military assignment requires the military parent with sole or joint physical custody to move a considerable distance from home or significantly affects a parent’s ability to exercise their visitation or custody rights, the order can be modified.

As courts make temporary orders during deployment, they must consider the relocating parent’s ability to maintain frequent and continuing contact with the child. Any modification the court makes to accommodate these factors shall be deemed a temporary order without prejudice.

Once a Military Parent Returns from Deployment

Once a service member parent is back from mobilization or deployment, the presumption is that the custody order shall revert to the previous order that was in place before the deployment unless the court determines it’s not in the child’s best interests. Engage skilled San Diego military divorce attorneys to fight for your rights if the custody arrangements are contested.

Inability to Attend a Hearing Due to Military Duties

If a parent in the military is unable to attend a hearing on a regular schedule due to deployment, temporary duty, or mobilization, the court can either:

  • Allow the parent to participate in the hearings through electronic means or
  • Hold an urgent hearing to determine custody and visitation before deployment.

Experienced military divorce attorneys in San Diego can work with you to ensure a fair, efficient, and expeditious process in resolving your military divorce and child custody case.

A Skilled Family Law Attorney Helping You Navigate Military Child Custody Cases

Military service is noble and commendable, but it can be stressful for divorcing parents with custody battles. Military parents with a notice of pending mobilization or deployment can have difficulty working out custody arrangements and visitation schedules for their children. Skilled family law lawyers in San Diego can help them understand their rights and the protections afforded by California law.

Khosroabadi & Hill, APC is a family law firm providing skilled legal counsel to clients seeking assistance in divorce and child custody matters. We understand the unique challenges surrounding military divorce and child custody and can work to ensure your rights are protected. Our compassionate team dedicates itself to working with you when you need it the most. Call us at 858-240-2093 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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