How Does a Parent’s Military Service Affect Child Custody Orders?

How Does a Parent’s Military Service Affect Child Custody Orders?
Recognizing the unmatchable contributions of our nation’s military, the California Legislature enacted a law designed to protect military members’ custody and visitation rights.  California Family Code § 3047 provides that most absences and failures to comply with custody and visitation orders due to active military service shall not, by themselves, serve as a basis to modify custody or visitation rights.

The law imposes the following two requirements for a service member to take advantage of its provisions:

  • At issue must be the service members’ “absence, relocation, or failure to comply with custody and visitation orders”; and
  • “[T]he reason for the absence, relocation, or failure to comply [wa]s the party’s activation to military duty or temporary duty, mobilization in support of combat or other military operation, or military deployment out of state.”
In addition, if a military parent receives temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders that will have a “material effect” on his custodial or visitation abilities, any resulting modification of the custody order is deemed temporary and may not interfere with the military parent’s later custody or visitation rights. When the temporary order is reviewed after the military parent returns, the court must apply a special rule: Unless it is in the best interest of the child, the temporary custody order must revert back to the original order.

The law also provides special accommodations for deployed military parents, under defined conditions:

  • Reasonable visitation rights to a child’s “stepparent, grandparent, or other family member”;
  • Expedited hearings;
  • The acceptance, from deployed military parents, of electronic evidence; and
  • The use of measures to avoid delay in custody and visitation cases.
As you might imagine, military parent cases are a top priority for California courts. If you are involved in a divorce and facing active duty, deployment, and mobilization orders, your experienced family lawyer can help position you as favorably as possible in custody and visitation matters. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in divorce, child custody, and child support matters. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can protect you and your children: (415) 293-8314.