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Addressing custody, visitation issues in military deployment

In our last post, we mentioned that there are certain protections in place for military parents involved in child custody disputes. We wanted to look briefly at Texas law as it concerns custody and visitation issues affecting military parents.

One important Texas law regarding custody is that military duty, including deployment, may not serve on its own as the basis for modification of an existing court order or part of a decree dealing with possession of or access to a child. In other words, military service cannot be the sole factor behind custody or visitation modification.

A temporary order may be issued, however, during the military parent’s service if that service materially affects the parent’s ability to exercise and fulfill his or her rights and duties. A temporary order may grant rights to and impose duties on a designated individual regarding visitation or custody, though not with respect to child support.

The order of preference for designating an individual during a parent’s absence on military duty begins with the other parent. If the court determines the other parent wouldn’t be a fitting selection, the court will appoint another individual designated by the military parent. If that person would is not best for the child, the court will have to select another individual who is. Designations may also be made for visitation during deployment.

Under state law, specific rules apply to temporary orders for parents who have primary custody and for those who do not, and it is important for every military parent to work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have documents in place for handling custody and visitation matters in their absence.

Sources:

Texas Family Code, Section 153.701, et seq.

Texas Family Code, Section 156.105

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