In a recent California child custody case, the court considered a military deployment presumption in California’s family code, clarifying how courts should interpret the statute.
In that case, a couple married, had two children, and divorced four years later. The mother and father were both active service members in the Air Force. The parents were later stationed in different states and countries at various times. The children lived with the mother and then with the father. When the father was then deployed overseas, the mother was given temporary physical custody of the children, pursuant to Family Code Section 3047. When the father returned from his deployment, the case went to trial on the issue of the children’s custody.
After the trial, the judge said that based on the best interest of the children, the judge would have ruled that the mother be the primary custodial parent because the judge found the mother was more likely to cooperate and facilitate visits with the father. However, the court considered the military deployment presumption in California’s Family Code section 3047, and it found that the statute meant that the children would return to the father after he returned from deployment. The mother appealed.