Choosing to serve in the Armed Forces was not a decision that you made lightly. Like most other Colorado service members, you probably took the time to consider a range of factors before enlisting. The same might be true for other areas of your life — including your upcoming divorce.
Child custody is one of the biggest concerns that active duty members of the military deal with during a divorce. No one wants to give up their career in order to maintain a relationship with their child, but many parents feel that they have no other options. It is important to understand that, regardless of your chosen profession, the main focus of child custody should be your child’s best interests.
Will my ex automatically get custody?
You file for divorce, and the courts automatically favor your soon-to-be ex for one reason and one reason alone — he or she is not in the military. This is a huge misconception that continues to circulate through the ranks. In reality, your status as active duty will have much less of an impact on child custody than your role as a parent.
Like with all child custody agreements, the court wants to know what is in the best interest of your child. If you acted as the primary caretaker, then their best interests are more important than your job. However, it is not strictly illegal for courts to consider your enlistment. In the past, lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to move forward with legislation that would bar judges from considering a military parent’s status, but they ran the risk of putting parents’ interests above those of the children.
I’m deploying next year. What can I do?
As a single parent in the military, you must create something called a family care plan. These plans outline exactly who will care for your child during your deployment and are excellent companions to your child custody agreements.
You will review your family care plan annually, and your commanding officer must sign off on everything. What can you expect to put into your plan? All of the following:
- A short-term caretaker
- A long-term caretaker
- Care provision details
When should I deal with child custody matters?
Whether you are getting ready to file for a divorce or have already started the process, it is never too early to prepare. If you are your child’s primary caretaker, be sure to gather as much relevant documentation as you can, such as signed forms from doctor appointments or teacher-parent meetings. These can help demonstrate your level of involved parenting should your ex call anything into dispute.
Getting divorced can be emotionally unnerving. Throwing in complicated child custody matters does not make it any easier. Military parents who are worried that divorce may compromise their parenting time should consider the benefits of obtaining the guidance of an experienced Colorado family law counsel. This extra help can demystify the process and ensure that your child’s best interests are upheld.