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Can military personnel obtain primary custody after divorce?

Did you know that military parents in Arkansas can potentially have primary custody of their children after a divorce? Too many myths abound about parental custody in military family law, leaving servicemembers discouraged about their family's future. Although custody planning can be a bit more challenging for military parents, the obstacles are not insurmountable.

What should I consider when I am drafting my custody plan? If you are creating a child custody plan after a military divorce, you have to consider different factors than those in the civilian sector. Not only should you think about the ages of the children, but you should also be prepared to talk about the possibility of deployment. Create a plan for care in the event that you deploy, and make sure that you are prepared to manage a return from deployment. Your custody plan can -- and should -- include a comprehensive set of guidelines that cover a wide range of contingencies, including remarriage of one of the spouses.

Should I also be concerned about child support? Child custody issues are often accompanied by disagreements over child support. In the absence of a formal court order for child support, the military servicemember will still be required to offer "adequate support" to his or her offspring. Family support guidelines differ depending on the branch of Service in which you are employed, but this "adequate support" principle can help military spouses maintain financial solvency until a court order is finalized. Keep in mind that your military service can also garnish wages to meet child support obligations.

Military members do not necessarily have to be left out in the cold during child custody and child support decisions. Enlisting the help of an attorney to help with your family law matters can improve your chances of a favorable outcome in court. Do not let the risk of deployment keep you from enjoying that valuable time with your family!

Source: National Military Family Association, "Custody Child Support," accessed Aug. 07, 2015

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