How Deployment Affects Divorce and Custody

Many military marriages have to face the idea and reality of deployment. This event can cause a disruption in marital happiness, straining the couple to the point of seeking divorce or legal separation. When children are involved, the emotional stress can be even worse.

The State of Colorado has a law that protects the individual and parental rights of military personnel who may be experiencing a divorce or custody dispute with their stateside spouse. The Law Office of Gordon N. Shayne has represented many military service members providing the legal help they need to secure their divorce and reach their child custody goals.

Strains on a Relationship Due to Deployment

Extended separations, reunions, reintegration, stress disorders, and other factors bring many stresses to couples who face deployment.  These factors can lend themselves to financial, emotional and loyalty stress (faithfulness) as well as other issues that lead the couple or one party to decide on divorce as a solution to the dissolution of their marriage.

The couple’s state prior to deployment may also be a factor that may cause stress for both parties. Deployment goes through a cycle of stages such as:

  • Pre-deployment
  • Deployment
  • Mid-deployment
  • Pre-Homecoming
  • Reunion
  • Post-Deployment/transition

Each stage of military deployment can create an emotional toll on the spouses and the children involved. Many soldiers returning from deployment deal with reintegrating into society and adjusting to changes that may have occurred in the family dynamic while away. Trust issues frequently present themselves during the deployment because there is often limited to no communication during their time away. These and many other pressures have been reported to increase the incidences of divorce and custody issues.

The Service Members Civil Relief Act

SCRA is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations and relieve stress on family members when the service member has been deployed. This protection covers several obligations including pending trials.

In a typical courtroom setting, if there is a divorce or child custody proceeding, both parties are required to appear and respond to legal documents in court. However, The SCRA protects the service member from being penalized for not showing up because they are deployed. The SCRA protects a service member’s right to resolve a divorce and custody hearing until after the duration of the deployment is completed.

How does the SCRA protect me?

The SCRA protects all servicemen and military personnel during service and, in some instances, for a period after service has ended.  This act enables you to devote your time and attention to the defense needs of the Nation by providing protections unrelated to the divorce process such as:

  • Interest rate cap for service members whose ability to pay their debts has been affected by deployment
  • The right to delay civil proceedings

As a member of the military, you have the right to contest the divorce and file motions even when serving abroad.  Divorce in Colorado is considered a civil proceeding, however if you are seeking dissolution of your marriage, you must also comply with military regulations and rules. Having a skilled attorney who is knowledgeable with military law in conjunction with Colorado law can help you decide the best course of action for you and your family.

The Uniformed Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

The Uniformed Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, also known as the Deployed Parents Acts, protects a service member’s right to parenting time while they are deployed. Because the deployed parent cannot communicate or visit with their children as often as they would like, service members may appoint a nonparent (grandmother, uncle, cousin, etc.) to share decision-making responsibility in their absence.

Passed in 2013, the Act also provides specific protections for service members whose spouses attempt to restrict parenting time or relocate during deployment. Our law firm can help in these situations, and will work to protect your parental rights under this Act and the Colorado state laws.

Before Deployment

There is no way to predict how a deployment will affect a marriage or a family. However, if you feel like the extended absence will be a problem for your marriage or family, it is important to protect your rights before leaving the country.

While you may not have access during your deployment, all of your investments, valuable items, savings, and real estate property is considered “marital property.” If you do not protect yourself before deployment, spouses can access and spend these assets legally. To protect your assets, you must file a Legal Separation or Dissolution of Marriage before leaving for duty. These motions have automatic injunctions that restrict your spouse’s ability to drain your bank account.

If you have children, it may be in your best interest to draft a custody agreement before deployment. Gordon N. Shayne can help you create a custody agreement to help you protect your parenting time in your absence.

Skilled Family Law Attorney in Colorado Springs, CO

If you are currently deployed or will be deployed soon and need to resolve a divorce or custody dispute, it is essential to have an experienced and aggressive attorney to represent your best interests. Gordon N. Shayne is knowledgeable about the current rights and accommodations made to military service members in Colorado family law and can help you reach your legal goals. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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