As a rule, single parents cannot join the military on active duty if they have custody of their minor children. Single parents may join the Guard or Reserve components of the military and retain custody of their children, as long as they have a Family Care Plan in place that provides for the care of their children if they are called to duty away from home station. However, for those that really want to serve full-time on active duty in the military, there are provisions that allow for single parents to enlist or be commissioned in the military service. One simply needs a trusted friend or family member who can take care of any minor children, and the assistance of a qualified family law attorney.

Temporary Custody

In order to serve on active duty, a single parent must temporarily relinquish custody of any minor children. This sounds more traumatic than it really is. The first step is to find a trusted individual who will take care of your children and give them all of the love and care that you would provide if you were home. Many individuals choose the other biological parent, their own parent or a sibling, but you should choose someone that you trust implicitly, and someone that loves your children and is loved by your children. Once you settle on the right person and you have discussed things, you can begin the process to relinquish custody. This is a temporary situation, but must be handled through the court system.

Family Law Attorney

Next, you and your chosen guardian should visit a family law attorney. Your attorney will walk you through all of the steps to transfer custody of your minor child to the guardian of your choice. While every state is different, the steps are generally the same:

* File a Petition to Transfer Custody With the Local Family Court * Notify the Other Biological Parent of the Hearing, Either by Process Server or Registered Mail * Court Hearing With a Judge or Magistrate * Custody Is Granted to the Guardian * Papers Are Filed With the County Recorder’s Office * You Can Now Enlist or Be Commissioned for Active Military Service

The process of transferring custody can take up to a year, so it is important to start early and don’t allow yourself to become frustrated. Once you complete initial basic training or officer training and get through your first term of service, you can petition the court to relinquish custody from the guardian and restore custody to you. If you have questions, your family law attorney–like one from Ivy Law Group PLLC–is your best source for information.