At the end of Vietnam, America experienced a long span of relative peace (i.e., where there was not a know war or police action occurring). Since 9/11 that has all changed and America has been in war related-activities in Iraq and Afganistan. There are numerous hot spots around the world, such as North Korea (i.e., the Sony hacking) and Liberia (Ebola) where military troops are deployed. A significant military deployment seems like the status quo for now and the foreseeable future.
Outside of the Soldier’s and Sailors Act requiring certain notice to military families, there are several laws under the Dissolution Act that help the situation of custody and parenting time in the face of deployment.1 The fist is Indiana court’s have the authority to delegate parenting time to the spouse of the deployed soldier. This helps the children maintain a sense of connection with the deployed parent.
The second is the military parent is entitled to an expedited hearing on these matters. This recognizes the right to be heard, and the inability for this to occur if a hearing is set after deployment. In addition, this statute allows the parent to appear and make his or her present or future case for custody matters and parenting time by telephone, teleconference, the internet or other reliable means provided for by the court.2
Finally, given service to one’s country, a deployment is not considered a factor to modify custody.3 This is a public policy embodied in a statute, namely a parent should not lose his or her custody and/or visitation time because of military service. Nevertheless, other factors may necessitate modification and the trial court’s will not be hamstrung by this general notion in order to meet the children’s best interest.
Ultimately, Indiana trial court’s are responsive to parents, including those in the military, to the end of meeting the children’s best interests. The Legislature has employed them with great power to do so. If you are a military member facing a deployment or return, we hope you find this blog post useful.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. as a general educational tool. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice throughout the State.