Those who serve in the military often have to make certain personal sacrifices to pursue their chosen profession. They don’t necessarily get to choose where they live or even want specific job responsibilities they fulfill while on duty. The decisions about those major matters usually fall to someone in a leadership role in their chain of command.
Those serving in the military may be acutely aware of how their service affects their loved ones. Children can find it very difficult to have a parent gone for extended lengths of time. Deployments, in particular, can strain family relationships. Due to the unpredictability and lack of control that someone actively serving in the military experiences at a professional level, they may be unsure of whether they’re able to ask for shared custody if they divorce or separate from the other parent of their children.
Service does not automatically prohibit custody
\Some people assume that the possibility of a deployment would prevent them from seeking parental rights. However, single and widowed parents can serve in the military just like married parents do. The only difference is that there is a need for careful planning. Specifically, people need to have a family care plan on record with the military discussing the needs of their dependent family members.
They will also need to negotiate custody arrangements with the other parents that reflect the demands of their profession. For example, custody orders for military servicemembers often include special provisions discussing what would happen during a deployment or any extended training that they must undergo.
Parents can share custody with regular parenting time while they are close to the children and may need to have a separate plan in place for when they are not. Parenting plans for servicemembers may include requirements for virtual visitation so that parents can maintain their bond with their children during deployment through video communications.
They may also want to discuss accommodations for when they are on leave or when they return from a deployment and may want to catch up on missed time with their children. Ideally, the other parent should be flexible and accommodating to work with the military servicemember.
So long as a servicemember includes the right terms in their parenting plan, they can potentially work around the challenges generated by their service. Knowing to ask for shared custody may help those serving in the military preserve their relationships with their children even when their romantic relationships change.