If you are a military man, you live and work at the whim of the military. Just as your children have almost no input into decisions that affect them, you have little input into decisions affecting you. You rise in rank and earn more pay; you are unlikely to say no to those decisions. You are relocated to a distant base; you have to obey orders, don’t you? But what becomes of a family law matter when your whole family has to up and move?
Oh, That Darn PCS!
A Permanent Change of Station (PCS) usually arrives at exactly the wrong time. Your older daughter is keen to finish her senior year of high school. Your middle son just started dating a really sweet girl. You have to ask them to trim their expectations, stow their hopes, and set off with you to your new post.
A military move for a family can get a lot worse if a family law matter is pending when your orders arrive. Perhaps you were fighting for child custody, seeking a change in child support, hoping to stop spousal support, or pursuing a divorce.
Whether you are deployed, sent on a temporary assignment, or facing a PCS, your family law matter may seem like one more burden on your shoulders. All too easily, you may push it aside when military relocation is forced upon you.
Triage Your Situation
Separating your many burdens is essential to getting a grip on your family law matter. What can you affect, and what is beyond your control? Who can you rely on, and who relies on you? What are your rights? What are your responsibilities?
One strategy to getting a clear picture of your life is to triage your challenges. The word “triage” comes from the French, from trier, meaning “to separate out.” Medical triage has five levels:
- Immediate (requires immediate care and intervention)
- Urgent (requires significant attention as soon as possible)
- Delayed (requires help, but not urgently)
- Expectant (as in, not expected to live while also consuming vital supplies)
- Dead (need we explain?)
Harsh as this sounds, you may benefit from triaging your life when facing both a military relocation and a family law matter. What are your priorities?
Nobody likes to choose between children and a job, but you may have no other options. What comes first, what can wait, and what is beyond your ability to change?
Personal triage for a military Dad dealing with a child custody issue might look like this:
- Immediately begin the relocation process
- Urgently work to find a family law attorney in the destination country, state, or city
- Delay discussing specifics with your spouse or child until you have real answers
- Do not expect to spend time and money on buying (bribing?) your child’s desire to live with you, rather than the child’s mother
- Your chances of resolving the family law matter in the short time you have before a relocation are so slim, you must avoid wasting time on that thinking
Suppose you are working through a military divorce. In that case, you might triage your situation like this:
- Immediately consult with your current family law attorney
- Urgently work on packing and preparing for the move
- Delay court proceedings due to your military status (a protection afforded under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, SCRA)
- Expect and anticipate pushback from your nonmilitary spouse, but do not expend substantial resources on arguing with her
- Dead on arrival: a hope that you can remain in your current state or post to finish the divorce
Reciprocity in the Justice System
One benefit of our American justice system is that states honor one another’s legal rulings. A determination in a California court regarding custody, child support, or spousal support will carry over when the military Dad is deployed to Newport News.
This greatly simplifies some aspects of family law. You can carry your case with you, using your original attorney in your first home state to help find a suitable attorney in the state of your new posting.
If a case is pending, however, you may be called to return to the state where the family law matter originated. Unfortunately, custody cases can be fraught with snags, delays, and complexities because one parent is a servicemember. The SCRA helps but does not cure everything.
Whether searching for a family law attorney in your new posting, or working to resolve family law matters from afar, you need capable attorneys on your side.
Call Our Military Family Law Attorneys
Moving into Virginia or out of the Commonwealth due to military relocation, you need good legal representation in your family law matter. Turn to the experienced attorneys of The Firm For Men. You have enough on your hands. Contact us online or telephone our office at 757-383-9184 so that we may help you while you concentrate on your military service.