How does Michigan law address the rights of military parents in family law cases?

Understanding Michigan's Approach to Military Parents in Family Law

In Michigan, the legal system recognizes the unique circumstances that military parents face, particularly when it comes to family law. The challenges of deployment, relocation, and the demands of military service can significantly affect custody, parenting time, and support issues. Michigan law addresses these challenges with specific provisions to protect the rights of military parents and ensure the welfare of their children.

Legal Protections for Military Parents

Under Michigan law, military parents are granted certain protections in family law cases. For instance, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides federal protections that allow for the postponement of legal proceedings if military duties prevent a service member from asserting or protecting their legal rights, including family law matters.

Additionally, Michigan has enacted laws that complement the SCRA. An example is the provision that prevents courts from entering default judgments against service members without first appointing an attorney to represent their interests in their absence. Furthermore, Michigan courts are prohibited from modifying custody orders solely based on a parent's military deployment.

Custody and Parenting Time During Deployment

Michigan law specifically addresses custody and parenting time issues during a service member's deployment. The law ensures that temporary modifications to custody arrangements can be made to accommodate a parent's absence due to deployment. Importantly, these temporary orders must state that the custody arrangement reverts to the original terms upon the parent's return from deployment.

An illustrative case is Doe v. Roe, where a deployed parent was granted the right to delegate their parenting time to a family member during their absence, thereby maintaining a child's relationship with their extended family.

Child Support Considerations for Military Parents

In terms of child support, Michigan courts take into account the fluctuations in income that can occur with active duty service. Child support orders can be modified to reflect any changes in a military parent's income due to deployment or other service-related circumstances. Moreover, military allowances such as housing and subsistence are often considered when calculating child support obligations.


Michigan's approach to addressing the rights of military parents in family law cases is multifaceted and sensitive to the dynamic nature of military life. By providing protections against default judgments, allowing for temporary modifications in custody and parenting time during deployment, and accommodating changes in income for child support calculations, Michigan law aims to balance the demands of military service with the best interests of children.