Child custody arrangements may look quite different if you’re in the military

| Dec 30, 2020 | Family |

One of the more challenging life events that individuals have a hard time coping with is a divorce. It’s often a harder process for military spouses to have to go through if they have kids, though. Arranging for child visitation is often complicated for couples living in the same area. A servicemember’s residence in another state or deployment overseas can add an extra level of complexity to an already difficult situation.

How military and civilian visitation and custody arrangements compare

There isn’t a special court system that hears servicemembers’ family law cases. The military instead leaves the handling of divorce and child custody matters to each state and their respective family courts. Therefore, Illinois judges hear and sign off on servicemembers’ divorce and custody orders just like they would with any civilian case.

Both military and civilian parents who reside closeby to one another may find it easier to be more flexible with their visitation and custody schedules and thus accommodate last-minute requests. It’s common for parents in this situation to designate each other as “sitter of first choice,” or the first person a custodial mom or dad must call if they need someone to care for their child.

Divorced parents, such as military ones who don’t live close to one another, may benefit from having a structured visitation agreement. It should specify how pickups and dropoffs should occur, and any procedures each parent should follow should they need to deviate from it.

Servicemembers who live in a different state or find themselves deployed abroad may need an atypical visitation or custody schedule put in place.

It may involve them seeing their kids for prolonged visits pre- or post-deployment, during school breaks or on holidays while their other parent retains primary custody the rest of the year. Military parents may also request phone or video visitation sessions to maintain contact with their kids between physical visits. It’s also common for servicemembers to ask a judge to allow their child to spend time with their grandparents and other extended family members during their deployment.

What your focus should be in your child custody case

An Illinois family law judge’s primary responsibility is to make decisions that they believe are in your son or daughter’s best interest. A child custody attorney can help you advocate for what you think is in their best interest in your Chicago case.