Being a Single Parent in the Military

How Military Deployment Impacts Child Custody for Single Parents

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During one of the worse recessions we've known, as well as during times of warfare, it is quite conceivable that many single parents might consider enlisting in the US Armed Forces. However, particularly for single custodial parents, this is a difficult choice because enlisting single parents must relinquish custody of their children to enlist in most of the US Armed Forces. Here's why:

According to the Department of Defense, single parents cannot enlist in the Armed Forces. Shocking! Why not? Due to the time commitment and the uncertainty of locations associated with military assignments, it is difficult to imagine how a parent could be committed to the military and full-time duties as a single parent, simultaneously.

Still want to enlist? No worries, there are ways around the regulations.

Transfer Custody Rights

To enlist in the Armed Forces, you have to transfer custody to another person, permanently.

Transfer Custody to Whom

  • Your co-parent
  • Your child's grandparent (although you might still need the other parent's consent)
  • Another person of your choosing (again, you might still need the other parent's consent)

Joint Custody and Military Deployment

Although functionally, you might consider yourself a single parent, if your court order grants you joint custody alongside another parent, you will have to relinquish your portion of your rights to the other parent, indefinitely.

Regain Custody Rights after Military Tour

Custody will not revert to you after your tour because — let's not forgot — as per the military's rules, you empowered your mother or father, the child's other parent, or someone else, with custody rights, indefinitely. Therefore, you will need to go back to court and request that custody of your child is returned to you, explaining that you only granted custody to another person for military purposes. Problems that may arise:

  • Your child might prefer to remain with the new custodial parent
  • The custodial parent might contest the custody change
  • Although you might have had sole custody before, the court may grant a joint custody arrangement, which may be beneficial if you're requested to complete another tour in the military

As a single parent, it's a difficult decision to determine whether to relinquish custody of your child for what you might consider an opportunity for a better future. Realize that there are many problems that may arise, and this is a decision that should not be entered into lightly. By all means, please speak to an attorney in your jurisdiction for assistance.