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Military moms and dads face unique child custody challenges: part II

In our last blog post, we began discussing some of the issues that are unique to military divorce and child custody matters. In this post, we'll continue to explore the topic further as it relates to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Active duty or deployed members of the U.S. military must be able to focus on and carry out their military duties. In cases where a civilian spouse or ex-spouse decides to file for divorce or petition for a change in child custody while a service member is completing active training or is deployed in another country, he or she can take steps to stay the progression of the civil matter via the SCRA.

Under the terms of the SCRA, an active duty member of the military can "obtain a 'stay' or postponement of court or administrative proceedings." The initial stay period provided under the SCRA is 90 days after which time a judge can choose to extend the stay potentially until the military member is able to attend legal proceedings in-person.

For service members who plan to contest a divorce or who wish to be present during a child custody proceeding, the SCRA can provide much-needed relief from concerns that important legal decisions will be made in one's absence. It's important to note, however, that matters related to child custody, and specifically physical custody, often cannot be put on hold indefinitely. In these types of cases, a judge may issue a temporary child custody order in a military parent's absence.

Upon a parent's return from active duty or deployment, he or she may encounter challenges when it comes to the divorce process and regaining or obtaining child custody. An attorney who handles military divorces is uniquely positioned to provide advice and assistance during what can be a difficult and emotional time.

Source: Military OneSource, "Child Custody Considerations for Members of the Military," July 23, 2014