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How is custody handled when mom returns from active duty?

Military service has often been seen as a man’s role, but more and more women are joining the military every day. In fact, 15 percent of the nation’s current active forces are women. Many of these women are not only members of the military, but they are also mothers. The dual role creates unique child custody challenges for these mothers and their families.

In our first post on this subject, we addressed some of the unique child custody issues that relate to mom’s deployment, but that is only half of the issue. What happens when mom returns from active duty?

Returning to civilian life can require a period of adjustment for any service member. Transitioning from a combat zone back into daily routines isn’t always easy. For families, long deployments often mean missing out on major moments in a child’s life. In some cases, a child is essentially meeting a parent for the first time because they were an infant when the parent left. In other cases, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD may be a temporary or even permanent issue.

How might these factors affect legal custody? Upon the expiration of a family care plan, the parent is supposed to regain custody per the terms of the agreement.

An added issue for some parents involves a situation in which the temporary custodian or the other parent may want to retain custody of the child that was in their care during the period of deployment.

In some jurisdictions and rarer cases, judges have been known to grant custody to the individual that provided a stable home during deployment. Service is not supposed to be a factor that affects parental rights, but the justification for these rare rulings involves the argument that making the temporary custody arrangement more permanent was in the child’s best interests, that the court was not considering the parent’s interests.

Parents that may be facing added custody issues in Ohio upon the return from active duty should have an experienced attorney on their side. A child's best interests are very important, but it is also important that parent-child relationship is not lost in these determinations. 

Source: CantonRep.com, “Mom goes to war,” Lane Anderson, May 20, 2014

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