Whether you have full or shared custody of your child or are the non-custodial parent with visitation rights, being deployed will mean that you won’t be able to uphold your end of the parenting agreement you have with your ex-spouse. However, that does not mean that the custody and visitation order needs to change—at least not permanently. Before you deploy, you should speak to a divorce and custody lawyer with experience working with military members. MacDowell Law Group will help you protect your parental rights.
Virginia Protects Military Parents’ Rights
Clearly, things will have to change when you deploy, but you should not have to agree to a new custody plan because of your deployment. The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act of 2008 allows a deploying parent to:
- Ensure that their deployment is clearly stated as the reason for a temporary modification of the custody or visitation order so that the matter can be revisited within 30 days of the end of deployment.
- Delegate their parenting time to a family member with whom the child has a relationship rather than giving the time to the ex-spouse.
If there is no custody order in place at the time of deployment, the Act grants the deploying parent a right to an expedited petition and requires the court to accommodate them if they are unable to appear in court due to deployment.
In addition to protections under this Act, servicemembers are protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) from civil actions and decisions regarding custody while they are deployed. In other words, a custody agreement cannot be finalized or modified while the servicemember is on active duty or for 30 additional days after deployment. However, you cannot protect these guaranteed rights if you don’t know about them.
A Family Lawyer Who Works With Servicemembers Can Make All the Difference
Whether your spouse is trying to change a custody order while you are on active duty or you are married to someone on active duty and are trying to modify a family plan, you need a custody lawyer who is familiar with Virginia law regarding the rights of military parents. At MacDowell Law Group, we proudly represent members of the military and their families in divorce and custody cases.
Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia, law office at (703) 277-2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and look forward to helping you.