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5 Things You Should Know About Child Custody And Enlisting In The Marines

Are you a divorced individual with sole or shared custody of children? Are you thinking about joining the marines and wondering how the decision will affect your custody rights? If so, here are five important things that you should know.

1. You'll Need To Relinquish Custody Of Your Children

Because service with the U.S. Marines can involve lengthy stays of deployments, you may not enlist if you have sole or joint custody of dependent children. If you are divorced prior to enlisting, you'll need to allow another trusted adult to have sole custody of your children. This custody transfer must be permanent and court-ordered.

2. The Children's Other Parent Will Have First Dibs On Custody

As long as the other biological parent of your children is both willing to accept custody and competent to adequately care for your children, they'll be granted sole custody of your children by most states in the event that you relinquish custody. If the other biological parent either doesn't want custody or has been deemed incapable of caring for children, you can choose a trusted family member or friend to assume custody of your children while you are enlisted in the marines.

If your ex-spouse is competent to care for your children but doesn't want or can't take on the responsibility, they'll need to sign a document declaring that they agree with the chosen caregiver. You'll also need to set up a family care plan with your recruiter that details how your children will be cared for during your enlistment.

3. You Won't Be Able To Enlist Right Away

Relinquishing custody of your children to your ex-spouse or a trusted guardian does not make you immediately eligible to enlist as a U.S. marine. Because the marine corps does not encourage individuals to give up custody for the sole purpose of joining the marines, you'll need to wait at least a year after relinquishing custody before enlisting.

4. Regaining Custody Of Your Children May Be Difficult

Because the transfer of custody of your children must be permanent to enlist in the marines, you will not automatically regain custodial rights once your service term is complete. If you wish to regain your custodial rights, you'll need to file for a custodial hearing with the court. If your children have decided that they'd rather stay with their new guardian or if their new guardian has decided that they want to maintain custody, you could face a custody battle and you may be denied custody rights or only granted partial custody rights to your children upon your return.

5. You Don't Need To Worry About Custody Rights While You're Away

If your ex-spouse refused or was denied custody before your enlisting and custody was placed with a trusted friend or family member, you don't need to worry about your ex-spouse trying to take back custody while you are away. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, any custody hearing involving your children will be stayed until you can return home to deal with it. This law was enacted to allow servicemembers to concentrate on their duties without having to worry custody issues arising with their children back home.

Deciding whether or not to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps when you're a divorced individual can be a difficult choice. It could potentially better the future for both you and your children, but it could also lead to lengthy and emotional custody battles. To ensure that you understand the pros and cons of enlisting in the marines after divorce, speak with a lawyer in your area who specializes in military divorce law.