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Important issues involving military members and child custody

Divorced parents in Alaska who are in the military may face additional hurdles regarding child custody. Being active in the military and facing the possibility of deployment does not disqualify a parent from getting primary physical custody. However, some military parents do worry that a judge may consider this a reason to place the child with the nonmilitary parent. Efforts to pass laws addressing this issue have been largely unsuccessful because they are seen as favoring the best interests of the parent over those of the child.

While relocation is generally an issue for divorced parents, it is generally recognized that if one or both parents are in the military, relocation may be required. Military parents often include provisions in the child custody agreement that address the possibility of deployment.

The military has a framework in place for families in which either both parents are in the military or one is a single parent. This involves creating both short- and long-term plans for caretakers and instructions on caring for the child. The service member's commanding officer must evaluate the arrangement, and it must be updated each year. Biological parents living apart from their children and not named as caretakers may need to sign and consent to the plan. For some families, making the family care plan part of the overall custody agreement could be the best policy.

Service members who are going through a divorce may need to deal with a number of issues that do not come up for civilians. For this reason, they may want to reach out to an Alaska family law firm representing military members.

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