Service Member’s Perspective: Child Custody (part 1) - The Men's Legal Center


The active-duty spouse carries a lot of weight while the service member spouse is spouse is absent. In a sense, the active-duty spouse is as much in the military as the AC spouse. It is not surprising that many active-duty service persons get separated and divorced.

Often the active-duty spouse cannot ask for primary custody of the children because of the career commitment unless the AC spouse has decided to leave the military before completing 20 years of service or is nearing retirement.

The same issues that stress a relationship and a marriage also make it difficult to maintain a relationship with your children. You need to use the same skills you use on the AC side of your life to make the relationship work. Be sure to put the parent-child time into your calendar.

When deployed in an unaccompanied status, schedule regular Facetime with your child/children. You should do this even when not separated or divorced. Get a family court order for Facetime to take place. If the custodial spouse frustrates the court-ordered face time take the custodial parent to court through contempt actions. Ask for attorney fees.

If you are PCS abroad consider having the children spend time with you during their summer vacation break.  If you are Stateside and not co-located with the Ex, even more reason, to ask for the children to spend their summer vacation time with you.

In California, there is a family law that if a child sharing plan is disrupted by deployment, the parents revert to that plan upon the deployed parent.

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