Child custody determinations can be the most difficult and emotionally challenging aspect of a divorce case. Parents may struggle to agree to make a parenting plan, especially if one parent is in the armed forces, because they need to make accommodations for one parent’s frequent deployments. If parents cannot agree, the court will intervene to determine a parenting plan, which will focus on the needs and best interests of the child(ren).
When determining custody, the court should review the military parent’s career and potential for deployment. If a servicemember is often deployed, the court is likely to award more timesharing rights to the civilian parent. Because deployment often prevents a standard visitation schedule, the civilian parent usually has more responsibilities when it comes to raising a child. The court may order the servicemember to pay more in child support as a result.
Luckily, Florida provides military parents with a few protections to ensure they can maintain healthy relationships with their children. For example, no changes can be made to a parenting plan while a deployed parent is away unless the civilian parent can prove to the court that a temporary modification is in the best interests of the child. Even then, the temporary modification is only valid until the deployment ends.
Florida law also allows military parents to authorize designated caretakers if they are going to be deployed for over 90 days. This means that a stepparent, grandparent, or relative by marriage can exercise the parent’s visitation rights while they are overseas.
The servicemember is responsible for:
- Choosing a representative
- Affirming the choice in writing
- Notifying the civilian parent at least 10 days before deployment.
The noncustodial parent can also petition the court for makeup visitation time once they have returned from deployment. As usual, the court will consider the best needs of the child before making any final decisions.
Schedule a Consultation
At Chesser & Barr, P.A., our Okaloosa County military divorce attorneys can help you develop a fair parenting plan that accounts for your military service and reflects the best interests of your child. We can also enforce your visitation rights if your former spouse is preventing you from spending time with your child.
Contact Chesser & Barr, P.A. at (850) 610-7471 to schedule a consultation.