If you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably already in a stressful situation. If you and your ex have children together, the question of child custody adds an additional element of concern. If you serve in the military on top of that, you may be anxious that your likelihood of deployment or reassignment to another state could put you at risk of losing custody of your kids.

Under normal circumstances, it would be a violation of child custody regulations for one parent to move with their child to another state or country. But if you’re in the military, relocation is an order—not a choice. What is your recourse in this case?

Missouri law lays out certain rules that guide child custody cases involving military parents. The law states that:

  • In the event of deployment of one military parent, a custody or visitation order may be temporarily changed to accommodate the period of deployment. This modification expires a maximum of 30 days after the military parent’s return.
  • In considering a request for modification to custody or visitation, the court must consider factors other than a military parent’s potential—or actual—deployment. A court must wait 90 days after a military parent’s deployment ends before modifying a custody or visitation order.

Making the decision to serve your country should never be a barrier to attaining custody of your kids. However, because the laws explicitly protecting the rights of military parents in Missouri are limited, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney advocating on your behalf.