Military families across the state of Illinois and the entire country are confronted by a number of unique challenges, including extended deployments and assignment transfers. And while such factors can have a profound impact on family life at any time, they can play a major role in military divorce and child custody proceedings. That is why it is important for service members and their families to consider whether and how child custody arrangements may be affected by their active duty military status.
Many military service members, as well as those married to members of the armed forces, have questions or concerns over how pursuing divorce may affect their parental rights. The Congressional Research Service discusses military-related child custody concerns in depth and explains that recent military campaigns have compounded many family law issues for service members. It is currently estimated that close to 150,000 active-duty service members have custody of minor children. For these families, establishing child custody arrangements can be complicated by everything from offshore deployment to temporary duty assignments. And given that many child custody disputes have occurred during and/or in response to service members’ assignments, increased concern is being raised over whether and how to implement military-specific family law guidelines.
According to the Our Family Wizard website, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is intended to protect the parental rights of active-duty service members during military divorce and child custody proceedings. Among other things, the SCRA prevents a co-parent or family law court from making permanent alterations to a child custody agreement while a parent is on deployment. In the event of deployment or station reassignment, military parents can take measures to make temporary changes to their child custody agreement in many cases. For instance, emergency parenting plans and provisions that reinstate original custody arrangements are common additions to military child custody agreements.