Serving in the military is not a nine to five. The nature of the work requires military families to be flexible. This same is true with deciding on parenting time for service members during a divorce or paternity action.
Parenting time is established through a parenting plan. These agreements usually include a schedule for when each parent will have time with the children, a location where the children will be exchanged, transportation responsibilities, travel expense allocations, and any other information pertaining to parenting time. The parenting plan should support the children’s best interests while promoting strong relationships with both parents.
The difference for service members is there are more factors to consider when establishing a parenting plan. Work schedules, deployments, Permanent Changes of duty Stations (PCS), and Temporary Duty (TDY) can make it difficult to exercise parenting time consistently. Service members often opt for parenting plans that allow them to exercise parenting time for longer, less frequent periods rather than shorter, more regular periods.
Even after a parenting plan is established, service members often fear that any change to their orders will negatively impact their parenting time. The good news is that Kansas law provides safeguards to preserve service members’ parenting time. For example, if a service member does not exercise parenting time due to certain military duties, that is not considered a material change in circumstances that would warrant a permanent change to a parenting time order. Also, when a service member is away due to military orders, a court can only make temporary orders changing parenting time. Under certain circumstances, service members may also delegate their parenting time to other family members while they are away. Kansas law also imposes certain other duties on non-deploying parents while the service member is away.
If you are a service member in need of legal assistance with establishing, modifying, or exercising your parenting time, call Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s divorce and family law attorneys today.