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The rights of military members in child support cases

As is the case with other types of litigation, active members of the United States military, including those who live in and work at Fort Hood and Killeen, have special rights when it comes to child custody and child support matters.

Among these rights, perhaps the most important is that, under federal law, a member of the military may under certain circumstances request that a court or administrative agency stay legal proceedings, including proceedings pertaining to child support, when the solider or sailor cannot be present due to his or her military obligations.

The idea is that it is not fair for a military member to have to miss court, and thus risk the consequences of having an unfavorable decision entered against his or her interests, because he or she was serving the country.

However, before invoking these rights, it may be a good idea for a solider or sailor, if possible, to consult with an experienced attorney who has some familiarity with both the laws and the local Texas courts. Not every judge will handle military-related issues in the same way, and there are important exceptions to the federal law which may apply to a soldier's particular case.

Moreover, it is also important for service members to remember that, should they choose not to pay child support, the other parent may have some additional options available to him or her, as the military's rules specify additional means for child support enforcement and require military parents to support their children.

Finally, while federal law gives military parents some protection from having to worry about court proceedings that they cannot attend, child support is still ultimately determined and supervised by the Texas civil courts interpreting Texas law.

Still, it is important for members of the Army and other military members to remember that when it comes to child support and, for that matter, other family law issues, they have certain unique legal protections.

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