Military service does not disqualify parents from obtaining primary child custody. Moreover, they may have custody rights after a military divorce. Texas has guidelines governing custody plans that apply to military families. Federal and Texas law also require both parents to provide financial support for their children.
Custody plans should take into account the children’s age, the impact of a parent’s active deployment as well as their return. When developing a visitation schedule, parents should also consider the impact of their transfer outside of Texas or the United States.
Custody plans cannot be based upon the assumption that current living arrangements will not change. Parents should plan for a change in circumstances such as the children getting older, a parent’s new employment, remarriage or any other circumstances recognized under state law. Plans should be flexible and address each parents job responsibilities and the best interest of the children.
Child support proceedings may be initiated in the jurisdiction where the custodial parent and children reside. Each branch of the military requires its members to provide adequate support for their family. Each military service has different family support guidelines that ease financial burdens until a court issues a child support order.
The military may also enforce garnishment orders upon service members. Under these orders, a court directs the military employer to deduct child support payments each month directly from a service member’s pay. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service has to receive service of these garnishment orders. Garnishment cannot cease or change unless terms in the court’s order or a revised order instructs DFAS to stop or revise the deduction from pay.
An attorney can advise military parents on child support and custody guidelines in Texas and military law. Legal representation can help assure that parents can avail themselves of state and federal rights and develop custody and support plans that provide for their children’s health and welfare.