One of the most frustrating aspects of living in separate households from your child is not spending as much time with them as you would like. If you ever lived in the same household as your child, you can probably remember the times when you would be able to get your child out of bed in the mornings, put them to bed at night, and spend time during the day together. Any parent would agree that this is what raising a child is all about. These shared experiences and the ability to bond together are essential, especially when your child is young.
Being able to share time with your child is difficult enough, especially as our kids get older. Sharing time is also an important phrase to remember as we begin today's blog post discussing military parents and how deployment may impact their ability to take advantage of visitation time with their children. Military members like yourself have already chosen to make a considerable sacrifice by dedicating a portion of your life to the service of our country. Further sacrifice is required of parents as you all navigate how to maintain a bond with your children despite the possibility of being deployed thousands of miles from where they are.
Despite the reality of their situation, that you are not physically located near your children right now, you are doing everything possible to take advantage of the time you have with your kids. It may have been the case that when your family court orders were entered, you either were not serving in the military or did not anticipate being deployed. As a result, you may be facing a situation now where your children Have missed a great deal of time with you because of your serving for months or even years across the globe. Telephone calls, Facebook messaging, and video chats can only do so much. You want to make up time with your children, and you would prefer to do so sooner rather than later.
The question is, how are you able to make up time with your children when you are on an overseas deployment? When so much of your schedule in routine is determined by factors beyond your immediate control, this can be a complicated and disturbing question to ask. Have you forfeited time with your children due to your career? Do you have to choose between your military service or your children? Fortunately, the state of Texas provides for mechanisms for military members to make up visitation time with their children throughout the year. Let's discuss some of the factors involved in making up time with your children on deployment.
The state of Texas and its relationship to the military
From the Panhandle to the Valley, Texas is home to thousands of military members and their families. This has to do with the fact that not only are there many military bases here in our state, but many retired and inactive military members choose to make their homes in the State of Texas. As a result, due to the many army folks living in Texas, there will invariably be issues regarding military service in family law that come together.
The attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are fortunate in honored to have represented military members and their families in many family law cases both here in Southeast Texas and across the state. There is something special about serving those who serve us with distinction both in the country and worldwide. Without a doubt, I can tell you that each of our family law attorneys has an extraordinary story that they can tell about opportunities they have had in their professional life to serve members of our military. Before we go any further, I wanted to clarify just what an honor it is to be able to work with members of our armed forces in whatever circumstances they may be engaged in related to Texas family law.
Military deployment impacts the rights of both parents about their children. However, the rights of the non-custodial parent are significantly affected by their service in the military. A non-custodial parent is a parent with whom your children do not reside primarily. It is pretty safe to say that if you are serving in the military and are on deployment, you are likely the non-custodial parent. This makes sense, given that you cannot take your children with you in many cases on deployment wherever you are stationed across the globe.
As a result, your children live with their custodial parent either here in the United States or somewhere else in the world on a military base where they can maintain some degree of consistency and stability in their young lives. However reasonable it was for you to agree that you should not be the primary conservator of your child, it does not make it any easier for you to have to sacrifice time with your kids to fulfill your obligation to our country and our military. I have worked with members of the military who frequently expressed just how difficult this tradeoff is in their lives on a personal level.
Suppose you are being asked to change where you are stationed relative to your children. In that case, you understand that you are physically moving yourself away from them and towards a place where the United States military is actively engaged in combat or other military missions. If you were to move stations, then it is likely that your family could go with you. For example, if you were the primary conservator of your children, Then your children could move to a different naval base with you. However, deployment means that it is not an option for your children to come with you, and even in that case, you would need to leave them with their other parent here in the United States.
In what ways does military deployment impact your child custody rights?
This is the crucial question that we need to address in today's blog post. When you are in the military, you may be ordered to deploy to where your family cannot follow you. If that occurs, then modifications to your family court orders need to be sought. These changes will not be permanent in all likelihood, but changes likely need to be made to protect your children and put them in the best positions possible to thrive.
Most notably, the orders regarding possession of your children may need to change due to your deployment. When attempting to modify any court order regarding kids, the judge will apply the best interests of the child standard to your case. Any requested modifications will be judged against this standard and will be denied if it is determined that the proposed change is not in the best interests of your kids. The state of Texas allows for you as a military parent to designate someone to care for your children or even substitute for you in your periods of possession while you are deployed. You should check Your current family court orders to determine if any instructions are provided for you as far as further modifications of the orders are concerned.
In all likelihood, you will be asked to create a plan that would go into effect for your child upon your deployment that provides another adult with the right to visit with and possess your child during whatever periods of possession you are missing due to deployment. You should check with your co-parent on this and make sure they know your future changes in the schedule as early as possible. I can tell you from experience that if you surprise your Co-parent with information like this, they are much more likely to react negatively than if you properly prepare them.
This process can be started by filing a request in court to have a temporary parenting plan created on behalf of the children. If you are the parent who does not live with your children on a full-time basis, you would be able to ask for additional periods in the future to be appointed to you that would make up for the time that you have lost with your kids. Usually, this request is made within a few months of your deployment ending. At that point, the judge would look at your children's best interests when determining make-up periods of possession. An essential factor in this discussion will be whether or not a person visited with your child on your behalf while you were deployed.
Travel schedules and planning concerning deployment
hopefully, you find yourself in a situation where you have some degree of advanced warning if you are being deployed. If you find yourself in this sort of position, you should know that Texas family courts require that you fill out a form that allows you to make travel arrangements to see your children as often as possible. Even though traveling a long distance to see your children is difficult, I'm sure it is a sacrifice you are willing to make to maintain the bond between yourself and your kids.
A smart thing to do would be to anticipate, when possible, and deployment while your original family court orders are being created. If you are in this advantageous position, you could create orders in your final decree of divorce, which go into place when you are serving overseas. Built-in make-up time such as extended summer breaks or more prolonged than regular holiday positions when you can come back to the states is a great way to ensure yourself make up time with your children.
Be clear with your co-parent about their role in this process.
Your co-parent plays a significant role when it comes to helping you maintain a bond with your children despite your being overseas on deployment. Family law attorneys here all the time about the difficulties people have with being in a position where they have to raise children with a co-parent who is challenging to work with and seems to have the worst intentions when it comes to fostering the relationship between them themselves and their children. This can be a recipe for disaster and can lead to further family court intervention in the future.
To avoid this situation, you as a military member should be clear and upfront with your co-parent about what steps you will take to make sure that you maintain a bond with your children despite any external circumstances. You should also be clear with your coherence about what expectations you have for them as far as the assistance that will be needed from both of you to ensure that this setup works well for all parties involved. It takes relatively little effort to help a child adjust to a different design as far as Visitation is concerned. What you need is the commitment from your co-parent in a positive attitude in making these adjustments work to everyone's benefit.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in our office, over the phone, and via video. If you have questions regarding Texas family law and are looking for information that may assist you, please consider contacting us today.