I am a member of the United States military who just learned that I am being deployed overseas. Will I lose the right to see my children?
In general, each New Jersey parent has the right to a specified amount of parenting time. Courts will typically make this determination based on the best interests of a former couple’s child. For parents who are members of the military, this right can be interrupted as a result of deployment. If you recently received notice of your deployment, you probably have a lot of questions. Of paramount importance is — what happens to your children while you are away?.
Under New Jersey law, the actual or potential absence of a deployed military parent may not be used against the parent in a child custody or parenting plan determination. An Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard, or other service member who is ordered to serve overseas for at least 30 days is considered deployed. In addition to deployment, an individual who receives service-related treatment for a medical condition that prohibits the parent from exercising his or her right to engage in parenting time is normally protected under the same law.
If a child custody or parenting time order has not yet been entered, a New Jersey court is required to expedite the process as much as possible once a military parent receives a written deployment notice. Whether or not such an order has been entered by a court, a service member parent who learns of an impending overseas deployment must notify the child’s other parent about the expected length and location of the overseas mission within 10 days of receiving written notice of the deployment or the day prior to leaving, unless otherwise prohibited from doing so. Additionally, the other parent should be notified about the deployed parent’s scheduled or future leave. During such time, the other parent must enable the child to communicate with his or her deployed parent or a parent who is receiving long-term service-related treatment. Such communications may take place electronically, over the telephone, or by other reasonable and feasible means.
New Jersey law provides that a family court may not modify a parenting time or child custody agreement or issue a new order during a parent’s military deployment or service-related treatment without the consent of both parents, unless the court determines that doing so is in the best interests of the child. If an order is modified or created in the absence of a deployed parent, a family member of the military parent who has a close relationship with the child may be provided with parenting time in the parent’s absence. Such an order does not, however, create a later legal right to visitation for the relative.
The State of New Jersey retains the exclusive right to make child custody or parenting plan decisions for at least 90 days following a parent’s service-related treatment or deployment in situations when the order is in place immediately prior to a military deployment or treatment was issued in New Jersey. Unless modification is required in order to protect the best interests of a child, a parenting plan and child custody order that was in place the day before a parent’s military deployment or service-related treatment began will typically remain in effect for a period of at least 90 days. Despite this, a military parent may choose to make caregiving arrangements with a child’s other parent without affecting his or her own child custody rights.
If you have questions, the hardworking child custody attorneys at Goldstein Law Group are available to review your circumstances and advise you about the legal options that are available. To speak with a knowledgeable family law advocate, call Goldstein Law Group at 732-967-6777 or contact us online today.
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