If you are a military member facing divorce, you may worry that you will have no chance of gaining custody because of the demands of your service. While it is true that your deployment or potential deployment may factor into the court’s custody decisions, a family law judge’s highest priority is determining the best interest of your children.
Generally, the court prefers that both parents have an active presence in a child’s life. However, as a service member, you may need to prepare a detailed family care plan to improve your chances of gaining custody rights during your divorce.
What is a family care plan?
A family care plan includes detailed instructions about who will care for your children should you need to travel or temporarily relocate for military training or duty. In addition to naming a responsible individual who will be able to look after your children in your absence, your family care plan may include:
- Name and contact information for an alternate surrogate guardian
- Details about logistical, educational and medical arrangements
- Documents providing caregivers with power(s) of attorney
- Care instructions for both short- and long-term absences
- Proof that surrogate guardians consent to care for your children while you are away
Does it matter where you divorce?
As a U.S. service member, you may file for divorce in Kentucky if you are a legal resident or have lived on a Kentucky station for at least six months. You may also file in the state where you are a legal resident or where your spouse lives.
It is important to keep in mind that different states may have very different laws regarding divorce. Before you file, make sure you understand how each state handles issues like child custody, support and property division.