This blog post looks at an issue affecting military parents who don’t have custody of their children. Specifically, it answers the question of who can exercise visitation on behalf of a non-custodial military parent when they deploy–assuming Texas has jurisdiction to decide the matter. Before diving into the subject, I’ll quickly mention that this topic complements my blog post of January 10, 2014, entitled “Temporary Custody During Military Deployment.” Read both for a fuller understanding of the subject matter. Now, let’s dive in.
In Texas, section 153.705 of the Family Code provides that a non-custodial military parent can designate a person of their own choosing to exercise visitation while the parent is deployed. In response, a court “may” issue temporary orders that give the designated person some or all of the visitation rights that the non-custodial military parent normally enjoys. “May” means that a Texas court is not bound to honor the request if the court finds the proposed arrangement not to be in the child’s best interest. Section 153.002 of the Family Code establishes the “best interest of the child” as one of the über-principles of Texas family law. In that light, it’s advisable for the non-custodial military person to designate only a person of good character and with whom the child has an existing, healthy relationship.
Finally, and as mentioned in the previous blog post, temporary orders terminate automatically when the non-custodial military parent returns from deployment. There is no need or requirement to go back to court in order to hit the reset button.
Author Jim Cramp is the founder and principal attorney at the Cramp Law Firm. Jim retired from the U.S. Air Force in the grade of colonel after having served 29 1/2 years active duty. The Cramp Law Firm provides a spectrum of family-related legal services in the greater San Antonio Region.