You promised to serve your country and are proud to be able to do so. Now that you have a child, you find that military life doesn't always make parenting easy. This problem is compounded if you and your child's mother aren't together any longer. Not only do you have to deal with the normal issues that come with child custody cases, you also have to deal with deployments, irregular schedules, and other issues associated with life in the military. Whether you are in the California National Guard or serving in another branch, these considerations might make your child custody case a bit easier.
Mediation for child custody
Often, mediation provides a good opportunity for you and your child's mother to work out a custody agreement that takes your schedule into consideration. If you and she are able to work out the custody agreement, you should consider points like who is going to make education and health care decisions for the child. If mediation doesn't work out, you will turn to litigation to resolve the issues. In this case, the judge will go over the facts that are presented and make a determination from there.
Flexible custody agreements
Child custody agreements can be either structured or unstructured. Military fathers often need to have unstructured agreements because this allows them to take their ever-changing schedules into account when they are planning visitation and other custody terms. Typically, these unstructured agreements would require you to notify the child's mother within a specific period in order to schedule visits and other events. This type of agreement isn't going to work for everyone, but if you and your ex can put aside your differences and work together for your child, this might be the best option.
Making plans in advance for what is going to happen if you are deployed or stationed away from your child is usually necessary in military child custody cases. One option that is usually available is virtual visitation. While this won't replace in-person visits, it is a way that you can remain a part of your child's life even when you can't be there physically. You can use online chats, video chats, email, text messages, and phone calls to keep in contact with your child.
It is important that you and your ex fully understand virtual visitation and the caveats associated with it. For example, the communication must occur at a time that is convenient for the child. This means that if you are stationed half way around the world, you would have to do video chats in the middle of the night or at whatever time your child is awake and able to chat. Additionally, the communication must be unfiltered so your ex wouldn't be able to interfere in what your child tells you. Plans should also be made for in-person visits. These terms can be spelled out in the custody order.