We Are New Orleans
Family Law & Divorce Lawyers

How is child custody determined when one parent is in the military?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2023 | Child Custody

A child custody order should consider the children’s best interests based on their individual ages, personalities, health needs and relationship with each parent. Also, factors like each parent’s ability to care for the kids, how far apart they live and so on must be considered if the custody order is to be sustainable long-term. Determining how parents in Metairie share child custody cannot use a one-size-fits-all approach.

This is especially true when one parent is an active-duty member of the armed forces. This can greatly alter how the parents negotiate child custody or how the court decides the terms of the order (if necessary). The servicemember parent can get called up to active duty at any time and sent to a faraway country for months at a time. However, state and federal laws seek to preserve a servicemember’s custody rights as much as possible.

No modifications during a deployment

For example, Louisiana law prohibits modifying an existing child custody order until 90 days after an active-duty soldier’s deployment has ended unless the matter went to trial that was completed before the deployment began. And a servicemember’s current deployment or potential future deployment cannot be considered, by itself, a marital change in circumstances that would justify permanently changing a custody order. Meanwhile, temporary modifications are allowed to “reasonably accommodate” a parent’s deployment.

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows Louisiana resident servicemembers whose co-parent lives in another state to obtain a stay on custody modification proceedings to give them time to return from deployment and focus on the source of the custody dispute.

Balancing two responsibilities

Parenting and serving in the military are both huge responsibilities. But no parent should have to sacrifice the former duty because of the latter. A family law attorney who is familiar with military child custody matters can explain your rights in more specific detail.