Time-Sharing Modifications in Divorcing Military Families

There are many issues to consider when you and your spouse have decided to divorce. Many of the issues can be fairly straightforward, like equitable division of property, where will each spouse live, who will the children live with, and what will the parenting plan look like. The issues become even more difficult to parse through where you or your spouse is a member of the military. As a member of the military, the ability to do your job may conflict with the ability to parent and be around for your kids. If you or your spouse is a member of the military and you are considering a divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Modifications Made for Parents in the Military

Over the last few years, family courts, with the utmost goal in mind of joint parenting, have looked for ways by which men and women who are military service people can not only serve their country as necessary but also ensure that these men and women maintain a close relationship with their children when they are not on active duty. Florida does this by providing military men and women who are going through a divorce with specific modifications to enable them to be co-parents to the greatest extent possible.

Modifications for Military Parents Dependent on Status

According to Florida law, many of the child custody and child support modifications made for men and women of the military relate directly with the person’s status - whether he or she is considered activated, deployed, or temporarily active. The status may dictate whether certain modifications in time-sharing with the children will be possible. The status of service will determine the type of temporary conditions and custody arrangements will be put in place to allow both parents the most time with their children.

Best Interests of the Child

Though the parent’s status is important, the greatest factor to be considered by the court when determining family arrangements and child custody is the best interest of the child(ren). If the Court finds that it is in the best interest of the child to have a specific custody arrangement, then the arrangement will stand until either the interests of the child have changed or the parent’s military status has changed. Then the court will evaluate what the next temporary custody arrangement will be.

Change in Status for 90 Days or Longer

When the parent is going to be deployed, is activated, or otherwise on an assignment for longer than 90 days and the change in status of the parent will materially change the parental arrangement currently in place, the parent may designate a family member, stepparent, or other relative of the child to exercise the military parent’s parenting and time-sharing plan. This is to ensure that the child is looked after, and when the arrangement in place is joint custody, the shared burden is not entirely shifted to the non-military parent. This will also provide a stabilized arrangement for the child, especially when the military parent’s status changes consistently.

Where the other parent has an issue with the designation of the military parent’s family member, then a hearing may be prescribed, whereby the military parent may be allowed to testify to the court via phone, video teleconference, or affidavit, among other mediums, that the person designated is in the best interest of the child.

Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation and more information regarding the issues surrounding divorce and the military.