How Military Service Affects Child Custody and Visitation
Having a family member who is an active member in the armed services can be stressful, especially if that individual is about to be deployed overseas. Attempting to plan or change child visitation or even having a pending family law case can certainly add to this stress. Fortunately, Oklahoma has enacted several new laws that help establish child custody and visitation when one party in a family law matter is an active member of the armed services. In fact Oklahoma is the only state that has enacted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act.
The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act governs custody and visitation issues regarding military members who are deployed. It states that a military deployment cannot be used to ask for a permanent change in the custody of the minor child. Under this Act, the courts are only allowed to enter temporary orders concerning custody and visitation of a minor child during an individual’s deployment. Nothing in these temporary orders can create permanent rights of custody or visitation. Additionally, ten days after the end of a period of deployment, the temporary orders are ended by operation of law.
It will certainly be difficult for a deployed individual to exercise legal custody. However the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act allows the court to order, upon a proper motion, for the deployed parent to designate a family member or other person with a close and substantial relationship to the child(ren), to exercise the deployed parent’s visitation rights.