Does Military Relocation Impact Child Custody In Texas?

Blog, Child Custody Lawyer

If you are in the military, you must be prepared to move at times. A Permanent Change of Station (POS) could mean moving thousands of miles, and it is just a part of life in the military. However, what happens if you need to relocate and are getting a divorce? Learn more about military relocation and child custody in this article, then talk to our Dallas child custody lawyers if you need help with your case.

Texas Child Custody Overview

Child custody is often one of the most challenging parts of divorce. Most parents desire “primary” custody of their children or as much time with them as possible. When the family court decides these critical matters, it always keeps the child’s best interests at the top of the decision-making process.

What option is in the child’s best interests will dictate all court decisions, such as custody, visitation rights, and who will be named the child’s “primary” conservator; this means the person in charge of taking care of the child more often and deciding where is the child’s primary residence. In some divorces, the conservator could even rarely be a grandparent or other relative.

What About Military Relocation And Child Custody In Texas?

Military relocation is a common issue in Texas during divorces and will impact child custody—especially when it is an out-of-state move. Some Texas divorce decrees have geographic restrictions and may be based on the county where the kids live and where the divorce order was signed. The geographic restriction may be that county and the ones surrounding it, or some other radius.

Some custody orders with servicemember parents address the possibility of relocation if you are in the military. But if they do not, the court will likely treat you like any family not in the service. The party that names the primary residence cannot typically move the children outside the geographic area defined in the divorce decree. If you need to relocate the child because of military orders, you may need to obtain a modification to the divorce decree.

If the custody orders from the divorce are in place and do not have a provision for military relocation, you may need to work with the divorce court and the other parent to change those orders to accommodate these changed circumstances. Remember that child custody orders are usually based on state, not federal laws. So, the state’s child custody laws are typically the basis for the court’s ruling when you ask to relocate the child.

What If You Are Deployed And Have Primary Custody?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act covers service members on active duty, reservists, and National Guard members when on active duty. Protections start on the day you start active duty and usually end within 30 to 90 days after discharge. The Act has language that says divorce courts cannot factor military deployment into their decision to deny child custody.

You could be eligible for a postponement of court or stay if your military deployment affects your ability to deal with a child custody case. You can likely postpone the hearing if your ex tries to alter child custody status during your deployment. You should speak to your attorney about your military deployment if you have issues with child custody. You also should work with your lawyer during the divorce process to address the possibility of military relocation related to child custody matters.

There are specific provisions related to these potential wrinkles contained within the Texas Family Code. It is important to work with an attorney who has a solid working knowledge of these when custody orders and deployment mix.

Contact Our Dallas Child Custody Lawyers

If you are in a child custody dispute, you need a strong legal advocate at your side. Please contact our Dallas child custody lawyers at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson at (214) 273-2400 for assistance with your child custody matter.