How does my military deployment affect my legal custody, physical custody and parenting time?

Military parents in Minnesota have some added protection when it comes to deployments.  In 2015 the Minnesota legislature passed the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act to create a uniform set of laws that ensure parents serving in our military are not penalized for their service while taking into consideration the impact deployment has on the children and other parent.  The Act defines deployment as being 90 days and less than 18 months where the children’s travel is not authorized and the tour is designated as unaccompanied.  The deploying parent is required to notify the other parent of the deployment.

The Act then allows the parents to work together to create a parenting time schedule for the deployment period.  Otherwise, the issue has to go before a judge.  This allows for an expedited process to get a temporary Order to lay out who takes care of the children, who makes medical or educational decisions and how the children have contact with the deployed parent.  Also addressed is a stepparent’s role in the children’s lives during the deployment.

The Act’s Article 5 states the procedure for the termination of the temporary arrangement once the deployment ends in order to balance the parent returning from deployment legal rights with the children’s best interests of seeking the parent that has been missed.  One issue that may delay parenting time resuming to what it was before the deployment is the age of a child.  A young child who has not had regular contact with the deployed parent may need time to build up to a longer stretch of parenting time.

A parent facing a deployment should consult with a family law attorney to discuss using the Act to most benefit that parent and the children.


Jessica Sterle