How Does This Affect Moving Out of State?Your orders may already address relocation if you are a military family. However, if they don’t, then you will be treated as any other family before the court. The parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence (what everyone associates with the term “custody”) cannot simply decide to move the kids outside of a set a geographic restriction. The parent can move him / herself but would need to leave the child behind. The only way to relocate the child would be by seeking a modification to the Decree or SAPCR order.
Will My Ex Automatically Receive Custody of My Child if I Get PCS?It depends. If your custodial agreement is already in place, and it does not contain a provision related to military relocation then you can work with the court along with your child’s other parent to modify the order. Remember that these orders are usually state-specific and you may be required to show how a relocation benefits your child. Relocation cases are often hotly contested and represent the majority of trials and jury trials. The other parent may not agree to having the child or children moving to another state. If the other parent moves out of the geographic area first, then the restriction is typically lifted. These are difficult and complex cases where the parent wanting to move the child must show that it is in the best interest of the child to do so.
Servicemembers Civil Relief ActThe SCRA covers all active duty service members, reservists and the members of the National Guard while on active duty. The protection begins on the date of entering active duty and generally terminates within 30 to 90 days after discharge. SCRA includes language saying that courts cannot use military deployment as a reason for denying servicemembers child custody. Read More on the SCRA website.
Soldier Mom Image Courtesy Richard Foulser for Parade