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Military Deployments and Child Custody

Posted on in Child Custody

Texas custody laws, Teas complex custody attorneyMaking custody arrangements is one of the most legally complex and emotionally draining aspects of any divorce. These situations can become even more stressful when one or both of a child’s parents are members of the military. Although Texas family law specifically addresses these issues, navigating the court system and fulfilling procedural requirements can still be difficult, so if you are considering a divorce and either you or a spouse are a member of the military, it is critical to contact an experienced complex child custody attorney who can help explain your legal options.

Deployment of a Custodial Parent

Many custodial parents are also members of the armed forces and so are subject to deployment. In these situations, Texas law permits custodial parents to designate another person to take temporary custody of the child. After assessing the child’s best interests a court will grant custody to one of the following individuals:

  • The child’s noncustodial parent;
  • Another person designated by the custodial parent (if a court determines that it is not in the best interests of a child to grant his or her noncustodial parent primary custody); or
  • Another person chosen by the court.

If no court order for a temporary change in custody is issued and the deployed noncustodial parent is also a joint managing conservator, the noncustodial parent automatically becomes the child’s primary custodian. After the military parent returns from deployment, the temporary custody order expires and the previous custody arrangement resumes.

Deployment of a Noncustodial Parent

When a noncustodial parent is being deployed or has been ordered to fulfill temporary military duties in another location, he or she can designate another person to temporarily exercise visitation rights on his or her behalf. Unlike custody orders, courts generally defer to the deployed parent’s wishes in these cases. Usually, these individuals are grandparents or other close relatives. Often, these terms are included in the order addressing a temporary change in custody, although sometimes it is necessary to file a petition with the court.

In recognition that deployments can last months or even years, Texas law allows courts to grant additional visitation time to the noncustodial parent’s schedule after he or she returns. However, to be granted makeup visitation time, a noncustodial parent must petition the court within three months of the termination of deployment.

Creating a Family Care Plan

In cases where a single parent is a member of the military or when both of a child’s parents are members of the armed forces, the military often requires the parents to create a family care plan that includes:

  • Contact information for both the short-term and long-term caregivers who are designated to care for the child in the event of a deployment;
  • The name of an alternate caregiver;
  • Written consent from both parents;
  • Information about how the child will be financially supported in the event of deployment;
  • The name of the person who will take custody of the child in the event of the service member’s untimely death.

Making these types of arrangements can help eliminate some of the stress of subsequent divorce proceedings.

Contact an Experienced Complex Child Custody Attorney

If you or a spouse is a member of the armed forces and are filing for divorce, please contact Powers and Kerr, PLLC and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a consultation with an experienced complex child custody attorney. One of our aggressive Leander child custody attorneys are prepared to assist you today.



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