When one or both divorced parents of a child are members of the military, arranging child visitation can be a complicated matter. Just like non-military families, visitation for military members is established in family court through a custody agreement that’s approved by a judge. These agreements need to adhere to the state law of Washington or wherever the family resides. When both parents stay in the same location, visitation can be structured or unstructured. Structured requires a strict schedule while unstructured allows some flexibility.
Visitation for military members who serve in a different state than the child and other parent can get a bit more complicated. While weekly visits may not be feasible, longer trips over holidays or breaks may work if the military parent is expected to stay in a single location for some time. Virtual visitation, which includes communication by video chat, is also a possibility.
Visitation agreements can also deal with overseas deployment. While deployed, the military member can assign their visitation time over to family members who already have a close relationship with the child. A military member may also schedule a make-up time that can be fulfilled either before or after deployment as long as schedules can accommodate the additional visits.
Both parents involved in a military divorce have the right to representation from a lawyer who will advocate for their best interests. In many cases, parents on good terms can arrange unstructured visitation agreements on their own. If there’s conflict, however, a court may need to make a decision about how much time each parent gets with the children. It’s normal for schedules to change while in the military, so an attorney can help amend visitation agreements when needed.