Zachary A. VanDyke, PA
Panama City Attorney
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3 key factors in military child custody arrangements

You may have decided to serve your country long before the decision to have children. Now, your spouse wants to get a divorce, and you know it could impact how much time you get with your kids. Will being in the military affect your right to see your children?

Fortunately, Florida courts are not supposed to consider military service as a reason to deny a military member's parental rights. However, courts will consider protecting the child's best interests as the top priority, and primary custody typically goes to the parent who can provide the most care. There are a few things that make service members' custody arrangements more complicated, though.

1. Deployment is a concern.

Deployment is something you should think about if you're considering seeking primary custody of your child. Understandably, deployment can upsetting to children and disruptive to their lives. For this reason, it is important to weigh the likelihood of deployment before deciding what you want to do with your custody case.

2. Single parents with custody cannot enlist in the military.

This is one fact that could influence your decision regarding custody. Normally, single parents with primary custody of their children cannot join the military -- at least not without giving up primary custody.

If you were not single or did not have children before you joined, this rule doesn't apply to you, but it does have good reasoning. The potential for deployment, long hours and other military matters that come up are not always good for children. Taking care of children with one military member often requires a spouse or intense planning. Since you are already in the military, you should create a military-specific parenting plan with the help of your attorney. This plan should describe what happens if you are deployed while your children are in your custody. The plan should also clarify who will take care of the children in the short and long term.

3. Relocating is more difficult

If you want to have primary custody of your child, remember that you cannot simply relocate whenever you want to. The military may order you to relocate, but in order not to violate the other parent's rights, the court needs to approve the move. You may want to include terms in your custody agreement to address what happens in the event that you are ordered to another location.

An experienced military family law attorney can help you understand how being in the military will affect your child custody options.

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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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