Skip to content

Child Custody Military Parent Legal Issues

Members of the Armed Services face unique legal challenges in Family Law, especially when away on deployment. Under Colorado and Federal Law, numerous legal protections are afforded to servicemembers in Family Law Matters. Our Fort Collins divorce and child custody attorneys can explain these protections and much more if you are a member of our Armed Services.

Service Members Relief Act (SCRA)

The SCRA Federal Statute governs the general rights of service members when under deployment. As participation in legal proceedings is significantly impaired when a service member is away on deployment, the Act serves to provide some relief to those challenges. Under the SCRA, judges may grant temporary stays of legal proceedings and relief from default judgments, including those involving custody matters.

Because the SCRA has its limitations, other Acts have been drafted to address the critical need for further resolution to child custody issues faced by deployed service members. Numerous state statutes and the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) aim to address some of those critical needs.

The UDPCVA addresses critical issues common to parents who are deployed in the military or national services surrounding child custody and visitation matters.

Special legal protections have been implemented exclusively for military parents who are deployed for a period of at least ninety (90) days but less than eighteen (18) months, under military orders that:

  1. Must be unaccompanied;
  2. Prohibit independent travel;
  3. Prohibit the relocation of family members to the location where the service member is deployed.

The UDPCVA applies to all members of the uniformed services, active and reserve alike, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard of the United States, the Merchant Marine, Public Health Service, NOAA, and state National Guard units.

The Act incorporates numerous provisions including, but not limited to, notice requirements for Family Law matters brought before the Court, establishment that a parent’s home jurisdiction has not changed as a result of deployment, and the prohibition against using a parent’s deployment as the singular factor for determinations of child custody under the best interest factors.

While not all states have adopted the UDPCVA, it was adopted by Colorado in May of 2013.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

Under Colorado Revised Statutes 14-13-102.7, a child’s home state jurisdiction is defined by the UCCJEA as the place where the child has resided for the last six months.

Such a definition poses jurisdictional challenges for child custody matters where a military parent has experienced periods of relocation during their temporary deployment.

In an effort to protect military parents from the adverse impact such relocations may impose on their rights as parents in a child custody matter, Colorado enacted House Bill 08-1176, which provides that Colorado will not release jurisdiction as the child’s Home State over a child who has lived temporarily out of state during the deployment of their primary residential parent.

Colorado Family Law Cases and the Delegation of Parenting Time

Many parenting time orders have built-in provisions regarding the right to delegate parenting time when a parent is not at home and the right of first refusal allowing the other parent the first option of granting child care before the absent parent seeks a child care provider.

Such situations are common for parents who are in the Military. Fortunately, the Courts have been supportive of a military parent’s right to delegate their parenting time to their spouse, rather than automatically having the child reside with the other parent during the Military parent’s leave. Recognizing a fit parent’s right to choose how their child will be cared for during their absence, which includes the encouragement of a child’s continued relationships with stepparents and siblings, the Court supports both parents to exercise their parenting time, and the delegation of that time, in the child’s best interests.

In an effort to avoid such recurring challenges common for military families, it is good practice to incorporate provisions into the parenting plan regarding care for the child during a military parent’s absences for required leave.

Recognizing that parenting time orders must be established to accommodate periods of absence for military parent deployment, but sensitive to crafting such orders in a way that does not unfairly prejudice military parents in child custody matters, the Colorado legislature enacted Title 14, Article 13.7. Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, which incorporates provisions for interim parenting time orders during periods of deployment. Such interim orders ensure that the temporary parental responsibilities and parenting time order reverts to the orders that were in place at the time the service member was deployed or called to active duty.

Top Child Custody Related Pages at Cossitt Law Firm

Parenting time schedule

Emergency Child Custody & Endangerment

Colorado offers a method for immediate relief when a child is at imminent risk of physical or emotional harm by a parent. The court can act immediately to suspend all unsupervised with the parent allegedly putting the child at risk and place them under emergency child custody with a legal guardian.

Read More
Divorce couple reviewing parenting plan

Parenting Plan

As all families are unique, one form of parenting plan will not meet the needs of every family. The best parenting plan will be well developed and custom tailored to the individuals involved. Some parenting plans incorporate terms that will apply far into the future, as when a child emancipates into adulthood.
Read More
Girl hugging mom after being dropped off at dad's house

Modification of Child Custody

As life changes, child custody orders may no longer fit your needs or circumstances. When this occurs, seeking a child custody modification can be necessary to officially change court orders related to parenting time and/or decision-making responsibilities.

Read More

Parenting Time Articles

Son & Father playing together during a visitation.

Guide to Parenting Time

Formerly known as child visitation, Parenting Time outlines the schedule and conditions under which each parent may see their children

Read More
Holiday Parenting Time

Holiday Parenting Time

What holidays do you celebrate and how do you enjoy them? We can assist with crafting a holiday parenting time schedule to meet the needs of everyone involved.
Read More
Parenting time schedule

Parenting Time Schedules

Every child custody case will have a parenting plan that details the schedule so each parent may enjoy parenting time with their child. The schedule is commonly broken into three categories.
Read More
Parenting via an iPad

Long Distance Parentings

When parents relocate away from one another, the schedule should be molded to the accommodate logistics, travel costs, and the quality time between parents and children.
Read More


  • "I am very appreciative of Toms services. English is a second language to me, and this process seemed difficult because of that barrier. He was very patient and thorough making sure I understood everything before he proceeded. I will recommend him to everyone! He truly cares about you, as does his wonderful, helpful team"

    Review from AVVO

  • "I had a very challenging case, one that could have had indefinite financial consequences. Tom Cossitt evaluated my case and identified several strategies for moving forward. I chose one and Tom developed and implemented that strategy with speed and with the utmost in professionalism. The documents he drafted on my behalf, based on extensive research and case law / precedent were thorough and comprehensive. When the Court ruled, it used the arguments as developed by Tom Cossitt verbatim in its decision, and the case was decided in my favor. Needless to say, I was pleased beyond words. Based on my experience and the outcome of my case, I would highly recommend Tom Cossitt to anyone requiring the services of a family law attorney."

    Review from Google

  • "I met with as many as 10 different attorneys before coming across Thomas. After our initial consultation, I was very pleased with his knowledge and realistic expectations. During the really tough time, Thomas kept me calm and helped tremendously to get custody of my daughter. He kept me informed on what was going on and would ask for my input; if it was something that was unrealistic or could be done a different way, Thomas would tell me right away. During the hearings, he was amazing. He kept a professional attitude and was great at cross examinations. He took in all of the facts and evidence, and was able to present them efficiently and effectively. Ultimately helping me gain custody of my child."

    Review from AVVO

The Cossitt Difference: Fort Collins Divorce Attorneys That Care

AFCC Colorado Logo
Law Week Colorado Logo
Colorado Bar Assocation Logo
Fort Collins Chamber Logo
Super Lawyers Logo
Lead Counsel Verified Logo
Avvo Client's Choice Logo
Expertise Logo

Schedule a Consultation with one of our Fort Collins Family Law Attorneys

(970) 488-1887
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram