In Texas, the courts will hand down two types of orders in custody cases. A “conservatorship” order acts as a custody order, defining the role each parent is expected to play in the child’s life. For example a mother granted conservatorship may be said to have been awarded custody.

The other type of order has the rather ominous name “order of possession” which sets out the visitation schedule for the non-conservator parent.

What happens to the possession order when the parent is deployed

While conservatorship orders and possession orders are court judgments, the courts realize that things change in parents’ lives. In the case of active duty military, National Guard or Reserve personnel, deployments can interfere with visitation schedules over a long period of time. In order to preserve and encourage a familial relationship, the courts may allow the deployed servicemember to transfer the visitation rights to a member of the extended family, including the child’s grandparents during the period of deployment.

What if you are the custodial parent (conservatorship order)?

Under certain circumstances, it is also possible for a custodial parent facing deployment to transfer a conservatorship order to a person designated to assume the role as conservator during the length of deployment.

If you are a custodial parent or have an order of possession and know you face deployment, it is never too early to start putting the gears in motion regarding designating an alternative for your child while you are serving.

Child support may also be modified during deployment

For members of the Reserve or National Guard facing deployment, there may be a reduction in earnings when they leave their civilian job. The courts have options for applying for a temporary reduction in child support payments, as well.

The courts are not compelled to accept the person you have designated as your alternative, for either conservatorship or possession. Talk to your unit’s legal affairs officer and an experienced Texas family law attorney to help you work through the process steps, so there are no last minute surprises.