Deployments, stateside assignments and sudden transfers can add a lot of uncertainty for military parents. Non-military parents may try to take advantage of the situation by demanding sole custody or asking for a custody modification.
These child custody disputes often arise when a military parent is about to be deployed. Obviously, a deployment can have a major impact on a child custody arrangement. However, there are laws in place that protect the parental rights of deployed service members.
In Mississippi, Miss. Code Ann. § 93-5-34 is in place to protect deployed military parents and help solve child custody problems quickly and efficiently so that members of the military can focus on their duties instead of worrying about their custody cases.
The law protects deployed members of the military in several ways, including:
In cases where the military parent has sole or joint custody of the child:
- A temporary child custody order can last no longer than 10 days after the parent who was deployed returns.
- The military parent's deployment cannot be used as a factor in any custody modification action. In other words, the deployment cannot be used against the military parent.
- The non-military parent or guardian must make the child available to the deployed military parent through telephone, web or email contact during the deployment.
In cases where the deployed military parent has visitation rights:
- A court may grant the military member's visitation rights to a family member with a close and substantial relationship with the child during the deployment, such as a grandparent.
Under the law, military parents who receive deployment orders also have permission to request an expedited hearing to resolve custody matters, so long as certain conditions are met.
Additionally, military parents on deployment may be allowed to provide testimony and evidence through affidavit or electronic means instead of being required to appear in court, so long as certain conditions are met.
Members of the military should not feel that they have to give up custody or spend less time with their children than necessary because of deployments or reassignments.
With the help of an experienced family law attorney, military parents -- both fathers and mothers -- can defend their parental rights and create a parenting plan that meets the needs of their unique situation.