Co-Parenting With Someone Who Is Marrying An Armed Forces Service Member? Consider Your Custody Agreement

Developing a child custody agreement can often be a contentious battle. But for those who have child custody agreements already in place when one co-parent marries a service member, the battle may need to be fought again. As the cliche goes, change is a constant in military life, particularly when it comes to relocating. If you are currently in a custody agreement with someone who has plans to marry a service member, it is crucial that you consider reevaluating your custody agreement before the other parent is placed on orders to relocate after they take their wedding vows. Here's what you need to know. 

Consider changing your custody agreement 

It's crucial that you discuss what your current custody agreement would mean in the event that the co-parent comes down under their spouse's orders to relocate. Chances are that the relocation may be too far of a distance for you and the co-parent to effectively and easily trade days or weekends as the custody agreement currently stands. Hopefully, your current custody agreement contains wording that suggests that the custody agreement will need to be renegotiated if one co-parent moves beyond a commutable distance.

If not, it's a good idea to begin the process of changing the custody agreement now before military orders are placed. This is because there may not be enough time to go through the court process after orders are received. Service members can receive orders to relocate anywhere from two weeks to five months in advance, which leaves very little time for the court processes to be completed. 

It's also important to understand that there are various difficult situations that are part and parcel of being involved in a military family, particularly picking your child(ren) up from a military base if they live on base in military housing, regardless of whether they relocate or not. It can be extremely difficult for a civilian to get on a military base. Bases operate under different policies based on the military personnel, equipment, and function of the military base. Call the base's visitor center for more information about whether or not you would be able to go on base for your child(ren). 

Speak with the co-parent about future possibilities 

One thing that the co-parent should already have processed in their mind is the likelihood of their new spouse having to make a long-distance permanent duty station (PCS) move from their current location. You, as the other parent, should have a say in the matter of whether or not you will allow your child(ren) to be uprooted from their home, school, friends, and nearby relatives due to the co-parent marrying a service member. The courts consider what is in the best interest of the children when it comes to situations like this, and they tend to weigh heavily on those factors, which could mean that the co-parent may need to either relinquish their physical custody to you or have a long-distance marriage and remain in the area. 

Speak openly with the other parent in a mediation meeting with attorneys present. Address your concerns and allow for an open debate to foster a resolution to the issue rather than to delve into a long custody battle. In case the mediation does not work out, initiating the meeting will give you proof to show a judge in the future that you had tried to be amicable and come to an agreement without the need for a judge to step in. Of course, you can't see into the future and know where a PCS move will be to, but defining the 'what-ifs' and possibilities at this point will be helpful for when the time does come. 

For additional information, contact a child custody attorney at a law firm like the Law Office of Greg Quimby, P.C.