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Kentucky Law Provision to Aid Parents During Military Divorce

On behalf of Tasha K. Schaffner of Schaffner Family Law posted in divorce on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.

Earlier this year, Kentucky became the first state to pass a shared child custody that requires family court judges to consider equal parenting as the default decision. There is a less-talked about provision included in that law that aims to assist active-duty and reserve-duty parents who have gone through a military divorce. This provision states that deployed parents will be assured of a return to a previous custody agreement once the deployment is completed.

While Kentucky’s child custody law is the first of its kind in the country, there are some who believe that it does not fully address the issues that many service member parents face. Though the service that these parents provide through the armed forces benefits everyone, in many situations, former partners often try to use a parent’s service commitments against him or her when it comes to parenting duties. Service-member parents are often portrayed as inaccessible to their children when they are deployed and may often find that their parenting rights are reduced because of their job requirements.

Another consequence of military service that can be used to limit a military member’s parenting time is the need to seek treatment for service-related stresses. If a parent struggles to recover from the mental and emotional stress that military operations often cause, opposing parents may attempt to limit a parent’s contact with children under the guise that the individual may be unfit to parent. Many believe that seeking therapy for healing should not be used against a service member.

Kentucky has taken legislative actions to ensure that relationships between children and both parents are protected and nourished. There are still steps that can be taken that can offer additional protections for service members so that their deployments do not hinder their rights to actively parent their children. Those who are facing a military divorce may benefit from the recent changes regarding custody time. Those who need assistance may consult with an experienced attorney.

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