Being in the military can lead to a somewhat unpredictable lifestyle. You might be deployed overseas at the drop of a hat, or you could be restationed to another state. When you add divorce–and child custody–into the mix, things get a bit more complicated.
Normally, one parent moving to another state with their child would be a violation of child custody regulations. In determining child custody, courts will generally consider what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Because the case for moving a child (perhaps frequently) may be hard to make, many military parents fear that their possibility of reassignment to another geographic region will make them appear less suitable for primary custody in the eyes of the court.
Theoretically, choosing to serve your country shouldn’t be an automatic black mark against you when it comes to having custody of your children. While many states have no explicit laws protecting military parents in child custody cases, North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that has made legal strides on this front.
North Carolina adopted the Uniform Deployed Parent Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA), which supports military parents’ rights to child custody. Under the law, “a court may not consider past deployment or possible future deployment as the sole basis for determining the child’s best interests.” One’s potential for military relocation can only impact their chances of child custody if there is a demonstrated, significant impact on the best interest of the child.
Military parents going through divorce in North Carolina should consult with an attorney well versed in the protections afforded by the UDPCVA.