How does a parent's military deployment affect custody/visitation?
A parent’s temporary duty, mobilization, or deployment to military service and the temporary disruption to the child that results from it are not supposed to affect the judge’s decision to grant or deny a petition for custody or visitation. If a parent is deployed or in a position where the parent may be deployed, the judge is supposed to take particular care to ensure that the child has the maximum opportunity to have contact with the parent if it is in the child’s best interest.1
The court order that is written must require that:
- the non-deployed parent make the child reasonably available for visitation to the deployed parent when the deployed parent is on leave if the visits are in the child’s best interest;
- each parent help to arrange contact by phone, email, video-chat, etc, between the other parent and the child if the contact is in the child’s best interest;
- the deployed parent provide timely information to the non-deployed parent regarding the deployed parent’s leave schedule; and
- each parent provide immediate notification of a change of address or contact information unless this information is to be kept confidential due to domestic violence.2
Note: When the deployed parent files a petition for custody or visitation, s/he may include a request to give his/her visitation rights to a family member to use instead.3 See Can a parent who is deployed give his/her visitation rights to a family member?
1 Alaska Statute § 25.20.095(a)
2 Alaska Statute § 25.20.095(f)
3 Alaska Statute § 25.20.095(c), (g)