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Air Force changes custody policy

A military divorce may be especially complicated because it involves Alabama and federal laws and service members who are constantly deployed and reassigned. The Air Force recognized some of the deployment issues faced by military personnel dealing with child custody and visitation and made an important policy change.

Deployments and custody

Court ordered custody arrangements may play a role with assigning airmen, according to the Aug 5 announcement on the new policy. The Air Force will allow personnel to ask for assignments near their children or a deferment to stay near them. These requests will be considered even if the servicemember is not married to their children’s other parent.

Eligible applicants must be named as a biological or adopted parent and have a court-ordered custody agreement. Officials stated, however, that servicemembers still need to meet Air Force needs, carry out their military duties and remain eligible for permanent change of station moves.

Assignments that match Air Force needs will be made as much as possible. Starting Aug. 17, airmen can apply for this program.

Before this policy, the Air Force conducted a study involving female Air Force officer focus groups. They discussed their desire to have a family as playing a major part in their decisions to stay or leave the Air Force because of frequent moves, deployments, and arduous work schedules.

Other proposal

There was at least one other proposed measure addressing custody and visitation issues experienced by military families. The Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act was approved by the National Conference on Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 2012. This proposed law would require courts to consider a military parent’s deployments and not use them as the sole factor for determining custody.

Fourteen states enacted this model legislation by 2020. Alabama has not adopted this proposal.

An attorney can help spouses deal with the issues involved in military divorce. They may also assist them with protecting their rights under federal and Alabama laws.

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