Just got deployment orders or perhaps the military just notified you of an extended exercise or mission away from home? Worried that your ex might use this as an excuse to run to Court and take custody or parenting time away from you?
Don’t worry! New Jersey law does not allow the Court to consider the absence or potential absence of a service member by reason of a deployment or an extended exercise/ mission away from home as a factor in determining custody and parenting time.
But you have to do a few things to keep your end of the bargain: First, you must notify your ex no later than 10 days after official written notice of the deployment or extended exercise/ mission away from home. Second, you need to provide timely information regarding any scheduled leave or other availability while you are scheduled to be serving away from home.
If you do all of this, the Court is not supposed to modify your current Court ordered parenting time/ custody arrangement or issue new orders as to custody or parenting to while you are gone except under rare circumstances. What is even better is that it is possible that either of your parents (the child’s grandparents) can exercise your parenting time while you’re gone and, in some cases, your current spouse can too.
If you do not have a current Court ordered custody/ parenting time arrangement, i.e., you are in the beginning stages of separation or divorce, then the Court is required to do everything it can to expedite the proceedings to establish custody and parenting time before you leave. Again, the Court is not allowed to consider the absence or potential absence of a service member in its determination of custody and parenting time.
Once you return from your deployment or extended exercise or mission away from home, the custody and parenting time arrangement that was in effect when you left will bounce back into play just like you never left. Further, New Jersey will retain jurisdiction over custody and parenting time for 90 days – so don’t worry about your ex trying to leave the State and having these issues heard elsewhere.
If you or your spouse is a member of the military, you should be represented by an attorney who is familiar with the demands of military service on families. Contact Kevin J. Murphy, Esq., a life-long military dependent, former active duty service member, and currently serving reservist at 856.428.8334 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation.