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How can I make up the time lost with my child due to deployment?

One of the most frustrating aspects to living in separate households from your child is not being able to spend as much time with him or her as you would like. If you ever lived in the same household as your child and you can probably remember the times when you would be able to get your child out of bed in the mornings put him or her 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 is so important, especially when your child is young. 

Being able to share time with your child is difficult enough as it is especially as our kids get older. Sharing time is also the important phrase to keep in mind 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 huge 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 that you do have with your kids. It may have been the case that at the time 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 be able 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 very difficult and disconcerting question to ask. Have you basically 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 when you are 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 military 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 be able 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 across the world. Without a doubt, I can tell you that each of our family law attorneys has a special 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 make it clear 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 in relation to their children. However, the rights of the non-custodial parent are especially impacted by their service in the military. A non-custodial parent is the parent with whom your children do not reside with 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 more easy for you to have to sacrifice time with your kids in order to fulfill your obligation to our country and our military. I have worked with members of the military who expressed frequently just how difficult this tradeoff is in their lives on a personal level. 

If you are being asked to change where you are stationed relative to your children, then 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 are your child custody rights impacted by military deployment? 

This is the important question that we need to address in today's blog post. When you are in the military it is extremely possible that you may be ordered to deploy to a place where your family cannot follow you. If that occurs, then modifications to your family court orders need to be sought. These changes are not going to be permanent in all likelihood but changes likely need to be made in order 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 as a result of your deployment. When attempting to modify any court order regarding kids, the judge will apply a 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 an 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 he or she is aware of 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, he or she is much more likely to react negatively than if you properly prepare him or her. 

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 of time 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 what is in your children's best interests when determining make up periods of possession. An important factor in this discussion will be whether or not there was a person who visited with your child on your behalf while you were deployed. 

Travel schedules and planning in relation to deployment 

hopefully you find yourself in a situation where if you are being deployed then you have some degree of advanced warning. If you find yourself in this sort of position, then you should know that Texas family courts require that you fill out a form that allows for you to make travel arrangements to be able to see your children as often as possible. Even though traveling long distance to see your children is difficult I'm sure it is a sacrifice that you are willing to make in order 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 sort of advantageous position, then 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 longer than normal holiday position when you are able to come back to the states are a great way to insure yourself make up time with your children. 

Be clear with your co-parent about their role in this process 

Your co-parent plays an especially important 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 difficult to work with and seems to have the worst intentions at times when it comes to fostering the relationship between themselves and their children. This can be a recipe for disaster and can lead to further family court intervention in the future. 

In order to avoid this situation, you as a military member should be clear and upfront with your co-parent about what steps you will take in order to make sure that you maintain a bond with your children despite any external circumstances. By the same token, you should also be clear with your coherent about what expectations you have for him or her as far as the assistance that will be needed from both of you to make sure that this setup works well for all parties involved. It takes relatively little effort to help a child adjust to a different set up 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 find yourself with questions regarding Texas family law and are looking for information that may assist you then please consider contacting us today. 

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