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How is custody handled when mom deploys?

There have been over 200,000 women who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that number of female service members is only expected to double in the next couple of decades. Already today, 15 percent of the active forces are women. The face of the military has changed, and there is no doubt that it has changed other facets of life as well.

Many of the women that enlist hold more than one title. In many cases the women are not only soldiers, but they are mothers as well. Military rules do not leave room for negotiation when deployment orders are given, and yet women cannot put either role on hold. Handing over custody of the children to another, even temporarily, is not a matter of choice. Failure to comply with an order can lead to arrest.

In many situations, it is the spouse that takes full custody of the children while the other parent is away. With more women in the military, there are also more families in which both parents are on active duty. In these situations, a third party must be found to take custody of the children.

Parents may leave their child with a family member or a friend during the period of deployment. A family care plan is a formal and legal way to address child custody issues while parents are deployed, and a family law attorney can help ensure that everything is handled correctly.

This post discusses what happens when a military mom deploys, but what happens when she returns back home to Ohio? What types of challenges might a mother or family face upon return? We’ll cover the other half of this type of situation in our next post.

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

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