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How to protect your child-custody rights as a service member or MilSpouse

On Behalf of | May 18, 2023 | Child Custody |

Child custody in Oklahoma can become challenging and complex for service members and military spouses due to the unique demands of military service. Relocations and deployments can significantly impact custody arrangements, creating stress for parents and children. When navigating these complex child custody issues, remember the following considerations.

Create a care plan

Before a deployment or relocation takes place, it is crucial for service members to work with the other parent to design a comprehensive family plan to care for the children. The plan should include directives on who provides care for the children financially, medically and logistically when the service member is absent. Planning and cooperation can minimize disruptions and prioritize the children’s well-being.

Address relocation in the custodial agreement

Suppose a service member does not have provisions regarding military relocation in their custody agreement. In that case, both parents can address the issue by working with the court to modify the custodial order. Get to know the state laws that govern your situation, as child custody laws differ by state and include various determining factors for whether children can relocate with a parent in the military. Understanding the laws can help the service member and the military spouse protect their rights.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) rights

Under the SCRA, active-duty service members have the right to obtain a delay or stay of court or administrative proceedings if they cannot participate in the custody case due to a deployment or other conditions of their military service. Service members need to know and invoke these rights to achieve a fair resolution in their case.

State laws regarding military child custody

Each of the 50 states has provisions in its military family law to protect service member rights in child custody cases. This legislation ensures that military service alone does not dictate custody decisions. Laws vary by state, and knowledge of them is vital to understanding and asserting your rights.

Legal assistance offices

Service members and military spouses can receive support and guidance from their installation’s legal assistance office. The offices provide legal assistance and family and domestic relations resources for child custody and other issues. You can receive help to navigate child custody complexities and ensure that you protect your rights throughout the process.

Issues with child custody can become emotionally challenging, but knowing the available processes and protections can help service members and military spouses achieve the best outcome for the children and themselves.