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Will your military service impact child custody during a divorce?

One of the most practical benefits of joining any of the branches of the United States armed forces is the pay scale that considers the size of your family. The housing funds you receive, as well as your cost-of-living allowance, will reflect the size of your family to better enable you to support your dependents.

When you have a spouse and children, their role in your life can impact the amount of pay you earn as a military member. During the course of your marriage, your military service can benefit your family as well as the country. Still, service can place a lot of strain on a couple, which can eventually lead to divorce.

If your marriage begins to fall apart, your service could create complications for you. Specifically, there could be an impact on your ability to secure full or shared physical custody of your children if you are currently an active-duty service member.

Can you be there for your children?

When the California courts look at the best way to split up custody and other parental responsibilities in a divorce, the most important consideration is the best interest of the children in the family. The courts need to carefully review the family circumstances and the unique needs of the children before deciding the best way to split up parenting time and parental rights.

Although the courts typically do their best to produce custody arrangements that allocate parenting time to both parents in a divorce, sometimes doing so is not practical or beneficial to the children. A 50/50 custody split would be particularly difficult to maintain if you have duties on base at times when you would need to be there for your children. The courts will look at your work and availability when setting up the rules of custody.

If you wind up deployed, that could mean months or even a year or longer relegated to only digital communication as a means of preserving your relationship with the children. Your ability to parent and the amount of time that you have to offer the children will play a role in the custody determinations that the courts reach during your divorce.

Once your service ends, you might want to seek a modification

The custody order created when one spouse files for divorce is temporary. While the order the courts issue at the end of divorce proceedings is the final order, that doesn't mean you can't ask for changes later on. Requesting an adjustment to your child custody arrangements, known as a modification, is a relatively common civil action in the family courts.

If you can demonstrate to the courts that your circumstances have changed, you have grounds to seek a modification. If you are now better suited for parenting time or simply available and nearby, your modification request could potentially lead to an increased share of parenting time up to a full split.

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