Protecting What Matters Most

Can custody orders change during a service member’s deployment?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Military Divorce

Military marriages have all the stressors and strains of civilian relationships plus the added problems that accompany deployments. It is no wonder that the military divorce rate is much higher than its civilian counterpart.

When deployments further strain an already shaky marriage, the nonmilitary spouse may decide it’s time to cut their losses, take the kids and file for divorce. What can a service member do?

They have protection under the law

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), active-duty service members have some relief from certain civil actions against them during their active duty. These include all active-duty members of the regular forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and the following:

  • Coast Guard members on active duty supporting other service branches
  • Active-duty National Guard members on federal deployment
  • Active-duty reserve members
  • Service members’ dependents

The terms of the SCRA give active-duty service members a reprieve from responding to certain civil or administrative actions during times when their active-duty status affects their ability to participate in the legal case. 

All the service member needs to do to receive a reprieve of 90 is request this automatic stay in writing. In some circumstances, additional relief may be sought and granted by the family law courts here in New York.

How this helps service members

Under the SCRA, a service member on active duty can pause any proposed changes in the Family Care Plan that is in place. This can potentially stop a spouse or co-parent from taking the children out of the jurisdiction of the court while the service member is away from the base.


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