How does your military status affect child custody?
Child custody battles frequently create strenuous legal battles that cause emotional turmoil for both parents and children. Complex custody cases, such as those dealing with California military personnel, may result in even more aggressive litigation. But federal law offers protection for military personnel in child custody cases.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
One of the main considerations courts take into account during child custody battles is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA allows active-duty members of the military to postpone court proceedings due to conflicts with their military duties. If a civilian attempts to suddenly change child custody status during deployment, the military service member has the right to invoke the SCRA to delay the court proceeding.
The SCRA applies to the following military personnel:
- Active duty service members in all branches of the military
- Reserve members receiving active duty all
- National Guard members called into active duty by federal orders
- Coast Guard members supporting other branches of the military on active duty.
Alternatives to hearing attendance
In some instances, serving in the military makes showing up to a physical court date difficult or impossible. In these scenarios, California courts may offer alternatives, including phone and video teleconference appearances.
Family care plans
Single parents and families with both parents in the military may require custody agreements that protect their children during times of deployment. In these cases, parents may create a legally-binding family care plan that appoints both a short-term and long-term caretaker. The family care plan should also include specific details about child care duties and may include powers of attorney for the duration of the deployment.
Balancing family and military duties
Child custody agreements with military personnel may become difficult due to conflicting parental and military duties. While the process may require complex negotiation, state and federal law offer legal options for military parents willing to fight for their custody rights.