Visitation for Parents in the Military

If a custodial or noncustodial conservator is ordered to military deployment, military mobilization, or temporary military duty location a substantial distance from the other conservator’s residence, either conservator may file for a temporary order modifying possession or access to the child. Military parents are required to create a care plan designating care of the child. The care plan does not modify the current court order.

The uniformed military services require all personnel, on active duty or in the ready reserve, to be ready to deploy throughout the world on short notice. To assure readiness, dual military couples and single service members who have responsibility for a child or children under 19 years of age or other family member unable to care for them in the service member’s absence are required to complete a Family Care Certificate (FCC). The court order may designate a person to exercise the right of possession of the child for the periods and in the manner that the deployed conservator would be entitled.

In addition, the conservator without the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child may seek, within 90 days of concluding military deployment, additional periods of possession to compensate for lost possession or access to the child.

The reality for military families is relocation. Parenting plans focus on sharing the child when the parents live nearby but allow for the possibility of a temporary duty assignment (TDY). A long‐distance parenting plan can include detailed travel arrangements that allow for deployment and TDY issues.

Parents may want to create a clause in their plan to take effect when they have temporary duty assignments or overseas commitments. One idea is to extend summer or winter breaks to allow for such situations.

Maintaining contact between the child and the non‐residential military parent is important. The residential parent can support the child’s relationship with the other parent by having a consistent plan of communication with the other parent. It may seem that the residential parent is shouldering most of the responsibility for fostering the child’s relationship with the absent parent. The child will greatly benefit from this extra effort, especially as the child gets older.

For answers to commonly asked questions about the rights of military parents, start here: