Can someone parent in your place while you deploy?

Deployments often disrupt the day-to-day lives of servicemembers’ families. As a divorced parent, who also serves in the military, you may worry how an overseas duty assignment will affect your child’s relationship with you and your side of his or her family. Will your child see your parents? Your spouse? His or her siblings from other relationships?

To maintain ongoing family ties, you may consider options such as petitioning to allow substitute visitation.

Allowing a substitute parent

Under Illinois state law, as a deploying parent, you may request the court to allow someone else to have visitation in your place with your child. For instance, if you remarried and had children with your new spouse, you may prefer to maintain that contact and time. Therefore, you petition the court to grant your spouse reasonable substitute visitation throughout your overseas duty assignment, so your child continues to see and spend time with his or her siblings.

Determining the best interests of the child

To determine whether to allow substitute visitation, the court will consider several factors. Some of the issues the court will account for in deciding whether to allow your petition include your child’s wishes, your child’s needs, your wishes and those of the non-deploying parent, and each of your contributions to caring for your child in the 24-months before you filed your petition.

A deployment may prove challenging enough for your child without taking him or her away from other important family members. However, by taking advantage of the options afforded to you as a servicemember and a parent, you may create a support system to care for your child while you are away.