Service members and Family Law Matters

Every year, thousands of service members are deployed or stationed overseas. The last thing they need is the added stressor of a dissolution or custody battle back home. Please continue reading and speak with our California divorce attorneys to learn more about federal and state safeguards enacted to protect service members’ rights in divorce and custody proceedings while on active duty status. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What happens if my spouse files for divorce or custody modifications while I am deployed?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), previously referred to as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, is a federal law designed to protect service members when they are called to active duty and grants military members a mandatory stay (delay) on any civil court proceedings. The act applies to:

  • Active duty members of the regular force
  • Members of the National Guard when serving in an active duty status under federal orders
  • Members of the reserve forces called to active duty
  • Members of the Coast Guard serving on active duty in support of the armed forces

Under the SCRA, a military spouse can make a written request to the court to delay any court proceedings when the member has notice of the action, is called to active duty for at least 90 days, and cannot make a personal appearance in court. 50 U.S.C. § 3932(b). In family law, the SCRA prevents the non-military spouse from receiving any default judgments against the military spouse while the service member is deployed. 50 U.S.C. § 3931. In 2008, child custody proceedings were added to the list of applicable proceedings. 50 U.S.C. App. § 521.

Will my active duty status or pending deployment affect my child custody?

California Courts understand the stress service members undergo leading up to deployment, and it will go to significant lengths to alleviate any added stressors involving child custody. The SCRA prevents a non-military spouse from requesting child custody modifications solely based on the military spouse’s active duty or deployment status. The Court, however, may issue temporary orders during deployment if it is in the best interest of the child including virtual visitation to the military parent and visitation rights to the military parent’s family members such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles. The Court seeks to alleviate any negative impact on the children from the deployment. Once the deployment is over, the Court oftentimes reverts to the custodial plan in effect before deployment. California Family Code §3047 lists the parental rights of service members if they are mobilized or deployed due to military service. We appreciate your service. Let us help you protect your parental rights when you are called to protect our country. If you have any additional questions, give us a call today.

Contact our experienced Los Angeles firm

Divorce and family law issues are notoriously complicated and personal, which is why you must hire an attorney with years of experience, as well as the compassion and skill needed to handle these sensitive matters. For the qualified, dedicated legal representation you and your family deserve and need, contact Zitser Family Law Group, APC today.

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