Military service has an impact on child custody considerations during a divorce, as certain aspects of military life could affect how the service member is able to care for a child.
Overseas travel or relocation could interrupt visitation or custody arrangements, but this does not mean a military parent receives custody exclusions. There are protections in place to ensure custody opportunities.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Service members receive protection when their status changes to active duty through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. National Guard members under federal orders qualify for these rights, as well as members of the regular force, reserves placed on active duty and Coast Guard members serving in support of the forces through active duty assignments. These rights provide a stay or delay of court proceedings or hearings should the non-military parent attempt to change custody arrangements when the service member is away on deployment.
Arrangements for relocation or deployment
Court orders could be eligible for modification when a service member must relocate and there are no prior provisions for this situation in the custodial agreement. State laws often dictate custody arrangements and the factors impacting decisions to grant relocations permission, and any requests may be subject to proving the benefits of the move to the child. Minnesota has several provisions in place to expedite the need to make temporary arrangements when the service member receives deployment orders.
Service members in Minnesota receive protection for their parenting rights through both the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and state provisions. Custody arrangements for military members are complex and can change, but ensuring the well-being of the child should be the ultimate goal of all agreements.