What You and Your Lawyer Need to Know about Military Parents

Colorado Springs has a strong military presence. This city is home to:

  • Fort Carson
  • Peterson AFB
  • Schriever AFB
  • NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain Air Station
  • USAF Academy

And the number of Department of Defense contractors employ many recently returned combat veterans.

Combat deployment, readjustment to civilian life, the military lifestyle—they all take their toll on individual service members and their families. Unfortunately, this means that in Colorado Springs and throughout El Paso County, there is a large number of divorce and child custody cases that involve at least one military party. Therefore, you and your family law attorney must be aware of the issues facing military parents so that your future and the future of your children are secure throughout the legal process.

Challenges Facing Military Families

Military life, in the absence of combat duty, presents challenges to most families. Transfers to bases around the country or around the globe require spouses and children to relocate their lives to keep the family unit intact. Combat deployment unavoidably separates a family for months at a time and can happen repeatedly. Periods of separation from nuclear or extended family members can mean a smaller support network for non-military parents. All of these factors put added stresses on a marriage; sometimes the stress is too much.

But the challenges facing military families aren’t limited to geographical proximity. Military personnel returning from combat deployment face a number of mental and behavioral health issues that can put themselves and their family members at risk. Although mental and behavioral issues are not limited to military personnel, statistically, combat veterans are more likely than civilians to struggle with:

  • PTSD
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Alcoholism and abuse of other substances, including prescription medications
  • Anger management issues
  • Domestic violence
  • Suicide

These issues may be a contributing factor to the breakup of a marriage or relationship, and they must also be considered by a judge making a custody determination based on “best interest” statutes.

What Your Family Lawyer Should Know

There is a relationship between the mental and physical health of both parents that a court must take into consideration when entering any custody or parenting time orders.  If you lawyer does not construct an effective strategy as to how to successfully deal with a mental health problem, then a parent may end up with a very unsatisfactory court order.

Lawyers of the Military Party are best suited when they recognize the challenges and risks their client faces so that they can encourage the client to seek appropriate help. An experienced family law attorney knows that a judge will make custody determinations based on the child’s best interests; a mentally unstable parent does not fit this criteria. Hiding the issues are not the solution; the child’s well-being must come first. Yet, only a well-qualified lawyer familiar with the unique situations and challenges surrounding military deployment, civilian readjustment, etc. will understand the gravity of the situation and make the appropriate recommendations and referrals.

Lawyers of the Non-Military Party must also be aware of the challenges and risks facing military parents in the event that the military parent’s mental health must be cited as a reason that primary custody with the military parent is not in the child’s best interest.

In divorce cases that involve one military party with no children, a family law attorney’s familiarity with military pay and benefits is still important so that assets are divided equitably.

Gordon N. Shayne has lengthy experience assisting both military and non-military parents work towards child custody outcomes that are in the best interest of the child. With over 34 years of experience in the legal field, Mr. Shayne is exceptionally knowledgeable regarding situations and challenges unique to military parents. To discuss your case, contact Gordon N. Shayne, Attorney at Law.

Disclaimer: The blogs posted on ShayneLaw.com are offered for informational purposes only. These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance. Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional. To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.

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