The GI Bill pays for 36 months of tuition, fees, books and a provides a living stipend. For purposes of equitable distribution, the GI Bill belongs exclusively to the member and is not a marital asset to be divided. However, if the spouse was designated under the member’s GI Bill benefits during the marriage and is not changed, the spouse can still use these benefits after the dissolution if the parties agree. Additionally, the member can transfer his interest in the GI Bill between multiple people, for example it can be split between the parties and/or their children. This can be a useful negotiation tactic for the servicemember as it provides an asset to use in negotiations without reducing the member’s income.
Due to the unpredictable nature of a military schedule, a service member’s schedule does not always track that of a school year. Therefore, the parties should consider creating multiple plans for different scenarios such as if the parties live (1) in the same city, (2) within 100 miles, (3) in the United States but more than 100 miles, and (4) and in different countries. Parties should also consider adding a provision that the member can have additional timesharing during pre-deployment or post-deployment leave. All parenting plans should also include provisions for contact between the servicemember and the child.
Florida’s Relocation Statute, §61.13001, has no special provisions for military members. However, when a member is ordered to PCS, the member must follow the provisions of the statute in order to request a relocation of the member and child(ren). If the member fails to follow the statute (and the other parent does not agree) then the member will not succeed in the court approving a relocation request.
UNIFORMED DEPLOYED PARENTS CUSTODY AND VISTIATION ACT
Generally, in Florida, individuals who are not parents do not have any rights to a child. That was until the Uniformed Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) became effective on January 1, 2018. The UDPCVA allows a deploying parent to request a nonparent to exercise their caretaking and decision-making authority while they are deployed. The standard to be used by the Court is the Best Interest of the Child (see Florida Statute 61.13).
The UDPCVA allows caretaking authority to be granted to an adult family member of the child or an adult with whom the child has a close and substantial relationship. Caretaking authority means the right to live with and care for a child on a day-to-day basis. The term includes physical custody, parenting time, right to access, time-sharing, and visitation.
The UDPCVA also allows for a deploying parent to grant decision-making authority to a nonparent if the deploying parent is unable to exercise decision-making authority. Decisionmaking authority means the power to make important decisions regarding a child, including decisions regarding the child’s education, religious training, health care, extracurricular activities, and travel. Any decision-making authority is to be narrowly drawn to the foreseeable needs of the child(ren). A nonparent who has been given decision-making authority should communicate and consider the other parent in decision-making. Any grant of decision-making authority shall not exceed the time that deploying parent is deployed.