Zachary A. VanDyke, PA
Panama City Attorney
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3 things to consider in military child custody cases

Trying to balance family life and work life is difficult for any parent who works. Parents who are in the military have it even more difficult because of the changes in schedule and duty stations that are associated with military service. For these parents, coming up with a suitable child custody agreement can be rather complex. This isn't to say that it is impossible, but it might take a bit of creativity.

Flexible scheduling

One thing that is very important when you are dealing with child custody in the military is to have some flexibility built into the agreement. This is a bit easier if the other parent is a civilian who is able to adjust to the crazy schedules that are part of military life. An example of what could be done is to include wording that would enable the military parent to have the child for visits during the days that the military member is off work.

A suitable option here might be to include a provision that the military parent has to relay his or her schedule to the other parent with reasonable time to plan, based on how the duty schedule is provided to the service member.

Family care plans

If you are in the military and have primary custody of your child, you will need a family care plan. This plan outlines who will become guardian for your child if you are deployed or have a duty billet that doesn't allow your child come with you. This plan has to be approved by your commanding officer. It must be updated on an annual basis.

The person who will care for your child during short-term periods and the one who will care for your child during long-term assignments must sign the family care plan each time it is updated or changed.

Deployment visitation

Being able to see your child is something that shouldn't be dependent upon your being stationed stateside. Including provisions in your child custody agreement for how you will be able to communicate with your child when you aren't able to be there physically is important.

One option that you have is to include a provision that outlines virtual visitation. In this case, you would be able to use technology, such as video chats, emails, or other similar forms of communication, to keep in touch with your child. Typically, these visits will have to occur at a time when it isn't disruptive to the child's life and the communication shouldn't be censored by the parent who is physically present with the child.

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Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A.
502 Harmon Ave
Panama City, FL 32401

Phone: 850-851-0864
Fax: 850-215-6459
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