Active service members residing in Massachusetts face the same issues in regards to divorce and child custody that civilian parents do. If you are the sole caretaker of a child or if you plan to file for sole custody of your child, your biggest fear may be that your military service will interfere with your ability to attain legal rights and custody over your child. The Massachusetts State Legislature includes how service may affect child custody.

If the court concludes you are a fit parent and that sole custody is in the best interest of the child, your military career cannot strip you of those rights. If you receive orders of deployment or duty elsewhere that would move you a substantial distance from your child, the court holds an expedited hearing to decide on temporary orders of custody, care and maintenance of the child during your deployment.

If you cannot appear in court due to an order from the military, you may be able to present testimony through electronic means. You must have advanced notice and a good cause. When it comes to military service, the courts cannot hold your service against you in regards to how it may interrupt your parenting function.

If it is in the best interests of your child, during deployment or duty, you can delegate your responsibilities to another member of the child’s family. When you return from your deployment, your previous parenting plan and custody resumes.

The above article is meant to inform on sole custody and service members. It is not intended to be legal advice.