Can Military Deployment Lead to Loss of Child Custody Rights?

Parents who serve in the military have the same rights as civilian parents when it comes to child custody disputes. When a parent is deployed, the other parent cannot use that time to strip the other parent of his or her parental rights. Because of how child custody disputes have negatively impacted military parents, a federal law was recently passed to help parents who are serving their country.

Illinois parents who serve in the military may be concerned with how a deployment will affect children. Often, the non-custodial parent may care for the child while the other parent is deployed, but this can cause problems when the service member returns home and wants the child back. One military mother experienced the reality of this after she returned home from deployment. She found that her ex-husband was demanding that she produce a court order to get her daughter back.

In order to protect military men and women from this type of situation, the new federal law protects military parents’ custodial rights. Because custody laws differ from state to state, a legal measure on the federal level was necessary. In this particular case, the woman was able to regain custody of her daughter after a lengthy two-year legal battle. Now, parents should be able to avoid this legal hassle after a deployment.

When an Illinois parent is facing a child custody dispute, it can become more complex when a parent could be deployed. Military parents may reach out for legal assistance in order to better understand their custodial rights. Since this new law has passed, parents can have a clear understanding of their federal rights as both military personnel and parents.

Source:, “Bill OK’d preserving child-custody rights on deployment”, Jessica Wehrman, Dec. 13, 2014

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Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]