Child Custody in a military divorce is governed by a combination of federal and state law. Military pension and certain emergency child support orders are dictated by federal law. A military spouse can argue for child custody, but the decision can be made complicated by military obligations. However, the mere fact of military service is not enough to prevent being awarded custody. The civilian spouse cannot argue that he or she should get custody simply because his or her partner is in the military. Regardless, both spouses must come to terms with the fact that in the military the needs of the service come first.
For the spouse who is a service member, they can argue the advantages to life as a military dependent and the perks that come along with it. For example, most posts and bases have excellent school systems and many opportunities for child care and recreation. Most military bases have day-care facilities. What is the best part is that all of the above are provided to a service member at no cost. The Post Exchange at the base sells consumer goods that can be purchased at greatly reduced prices. The service person with children can make a strong argument for their custody rights, given the mentioned perks.
In awarding custody in military divorce courts consider the “best interest of the child.” The courts consider many factors including:
• The child’s preference and if he or she is mature enough to make a decision
• The ability and willingness of each parent to provide for the child’s physical, intellectual and emotional well-being
• The willingness of the custodial parent to provide continuing contact between the child and the noncustodial parent
• Abusive or criminal conduct by the other parent
These are the same considerations in custody decisions as in civilian divorces, so the military service, including the demands of training schedules, is only one factor in determining custody in a military divorce.
If you have specific questions about child custody and/or need help with your military divorce contact Thorsteinson Law Group, your trusted and experienced divorce and family law attorney.