Your divorce is finally done and the final judgment has been filed. You have custody of your children, but the military is going to throw a monkey wrench into your plans because you know that your spouse is going to use a deployment against you to gain the custody you fought so hard for. Washington provides policy for these situations via RCW 26.09.260(1).
A military spouse who has the majority of time sharing does not lose their awarded custody because of a temporary deployment or other temporary military assignment. The court will enter a temporary custody order that ends no more than ten (10) days after you return from your temporary duty station.
Should your spouse ignore the order, the court may schedule an emergency or expedited hearing to resolve the issue and get the children back to the spouse that just returned from a temporary assignment or deployment. Emergency hearings are scheduled within ten (10) days of receiving a motion from the returning parent. Thus, if your spouse will not return the children, it's pertinent to contact a family law firm such as Clement Law Center to speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling divorce and post-divorce issues when one or both spouses are in the military. The Washington family law attorney will explain your rights and will file the appropriate motion so the court grants an emergency or expedited custody hearing.
Because the law shows that the intent is not to permanently remove custody because a military spouse is ordered a long distance from his or her current duty station, the court will look at the circumstances and order the non-military spouse to return the children to the military spouse and to resume the visitation schedule that was originally ordered.
Because there is legislation in place to deal with temporary orders that a military spouse often receives, this can be written into the original final judgment of dissolution of marriage as a "what if" should the spouse receive temporary orders. This is the case for both men and women who are in the military and have a chance of being deployed or being assigned to a duty station that is far from the current place of abode for the parents and the children.
Contact Clement Law Center
Give us a call at Clement Law Center if you or your spouse is in the military and you are contemplating filing for divorce. If you have been served with divorce papers and you are in the military, you should also contact us for a consultation so that you will know your rights, not only regarding custody, but other issues that are handled differently for those in the military, including but not limited to military pensions and spousal support issues.