One of the biggest concerns for military parents going through divorce is child custody. A career in the military is inherently unpredictable, and service members may be reassigned to a new location at a moment’s notice. In a child custody case, this lack of stability may create challenges for military parents hoping to get primary custody of their kids.

Here are some core things you should know about child custody for military parents in North Carolina:

Best interest of the child

In determining child custody, the court will always consider what is in the best interest of the child first and foremost. Would it be best for your child to stay with you – and move with you every time you get restationed? A court may not think so.

However, other factors could change their mind. For instance, if there are indicators that your ex is an unfit parent – such as a substance abuse problem – then this could sway the court in your favor.

Legal protections for military parents

It may seem unfair to penalize parents who choose to serve their country by making it harder for them to retain custody of their children in a divorce. Fortunately, North Carolina is one of the few states in the country that has passed legislation to support military parents in child custody cases.

The Uniform Deployed Parent Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) states that “a court may not consider past deployment or possible future deployment as the sole basis for determining the child’s best interests.” The possibility of a military parent’s relocation can only affect the child custody outcome if this would have a major impact on the child’s best interest.

The UDPCVA also allows parents to create temporary custody agreements during a military parent’s deployment. This helps the child to maintain some stability while also giving the military parent the opportunity for custody when they’re back home.

Going through any divorce can be stressful. But the uncertainty that comes with your military career shouldn’t affect your chances of being involved in your child’s life. As with any divorce, enlisting the help of an experienced family law attorney can help to ensure you can a fair outcome in your divorce and child custody proceedings.