Are you a divorced parent in the military who has custody? Are you working on a third-party family care plan to go into effect in the event that you are deployed? If so,make sure that you gather the below three signatures -- your custody rights may depend on it.
Ex-Spouse's Agreement Of Third-Party Custody
If your plans are to leave your child with a third-party relative in the event that you are deployed, you must have your ex-spouse's court-witnessed written consent to do so. No matter how good of a relationship you have with your child's other parent, it's never safe enough to have a verbal agreement alone.
The U.S. Supreme Court views a biological parent as having superior authority over any third-party custodian, unless otherwise agreed upon. If you are deployed and your third-party custodian does not have a legal record of being granted custody of your child, the other biological parent could be granted custody.
It's unlikely, if not impossible for those serving active duty to be able to meet the demands of a custody battle. In your absence, unless they are deemed unfit, your child's other parent can file for and gain custody by default.
Ex-Spouse's Consent For Child To Cross State Lines
Does the person you plan to grant temporary custodianship of your child to live in a different state or visit a different state for any extent of time? If your ex-spouse has shared custody of your child or visitation rights to them, it's crucial that you get their written consent that your child be allowed to cross state lines. Even if the other parent has agreed to a third-party custodian, this does not mean that they have agreed to allow the child to be taken out of their home state.
When your initial custody order was drawn up between you and your ex-spouse, it's likely that their lawyer made sure that there was a clause in it stating that your child cannot be taken out of state or relocated to a place that makes visitation difficult.
Breaching these terms of a custody order is illegal in all fifty states so even if your ex-spouse agrees to a third-party custodian, you need specific consent for your child to travel outside of state lines for any reason whatsoever.
Appointed Custodian's Return Of Custody Agreement
Now that you've gotten the signatures you need from your child's other parent, you'll need to gather one more -- this time from the person who you will be granting custodianship of your child to.
If you're deployed for an extended period of time, there's a good chance that your child and their temporary caretaker will grow very comfortable with each other. It is not uncommon for a child to initially feel as though they'd rather stay with their new caretaker, or for the new caretaker to decide that it would be in the best interest of the child to continue on with the life they have become accustomed to.
Should this become the case, you could face a lengthy court battle in order to recuperate your parental rights.
You must make sure that the person you appoint as temporary guardian of your child in the event that you are deployed agrees that you shall reclaim full and immediate custodial rights to your child upon your returning home. Have the terms of the agreement witnesses and notarized by a court.
There's a lot to take into consideration when making sure your child is not only cared for in your absence, but that your parental rights are not in danger should you be deployed. Gather the above three signatures for your family care plan and contact a lawyer, such as Debbie L. Fong-Uribe PS, to read through your plan and ensure you've covered all of your bases.