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Reassigning child custody due to military deployment

In Pennsylvania, a court will consider altering a child custody agreement when one of the custodial parents must fulfill a military deployment obligation. Before leaving, the military service member must petition the court alongside his or her spouse with a proposal that states who will care for the child while the parent is away.

The law allows an individual who has received orders to deploy to allocate custody to one or more family members. When presented with such a request, a judge will evaluate the petition to see if it satisfies four conditions.

First, the family members seeking temporary custody must petition the court alongside the military service member requesting a modification. Next, the family will need to present a detailed schedule that shows the dates of when the non-deployed parent or other relative plans to care for the child. This proposed schedule must not exceed the existing custodial rights of the parent about to deploy. Finally, if a judge determines that the child's best interests will be maintained by the alternative family member, a temporary custody order may be granted. Upon the completion of the parent's deployment, child custody will revert to the original custodial agreement between the parents.

Because military deployment represents a common example of changed circumstances, the law already provides specific provisions for dealing with the situation. A person who needs to modify child custody because of military duty or other issues could choose to discuss that need with an attorney. A lawyer might be able to inform the person about the process of changing custody. If negotiations with the other parent become necessary, an attorney could communicate with that parent while seeking to protect the rights of the client. Any documentation that needs to be shown in court might also be prepared by the attorney.

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