How Does Military Deployment Affect Child Visitation?

There is no question that a parent's military service can present child custody and visitation issues. Deployments and ongoing relocations can have an impact on child custody and visitation and sometimes they may require that a service member give up child custody temporarily. When service members return to the states, they sometimes face an uphill child custody battle.

If you are a parent who is divorced or not in a relationship with your child's other parent, your relocation or permanent change of station may have an impact on your child custody or visitation arrangement. Child custody arrangements are generally handled on the state level and are not subject to federal law.

If you have a child custody arrangement in place and it does not currently contain a provision addressing military relocation, the good news is that you can work with your attorney, the court and the other parent to modify the arrangement to it is more appropriate to fit your personal circumstances.

Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you have certain rights that are protected when you are called to active duty. The SCRA applies to members of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and National Guard, and members of the Reserve and Coast Guard who are called to active duty.

Under the SCRA, you can obtain a postponement of court or administrative proceedings if your military service affects your ability to proceed in a case. The SCRA provides military members an automatic stay of ninety days in these proceedings when you make a request in writing. This means that if your ex tries to change your child custody status while you're deployed, you can invoke your rights under the SCRA and postpone the hearing.

Section 61.13002 of the Florida Statutes

Not only are service members protected under the SCRA, under §61.13002 of the Florida Statutes, if a motion for modification of time-sharing or parental responsibility is filed because a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned for military service and the parent's ability to comply with the standing time-sharing agreement is materially affected, the court cannot issue an order to modify or amend a previous judgment that changes the time-sharing arrangement as it existed on the date the parent was activated, deployed or temporarily assigned for military service.

Under §61.13002 (2), if a parent is activated or deployed for military service on orders in excess of 90 days and the parent cannot comply with the time-sharing agreement, then he or she may designate a person or persons to exercise time-sharing with the child on the parent's behalf. However, this designation shall be limited to a family member, a stepparent, or a relative of the child by marriage.

At present forty-two states have enacted laws that address the difficulties that military families experience, especially when they have to temporarily give up custody or forgo visitation when separated from their children for a long time while on temporary duty or deployment. Fortunately, with nine military bases in Florida including Eglin Air Force Base, MacDill Air Force Base, NS Mayport, Tyndall and others, the state has enacted legislation to help protect the parental rights of Florida's service members.

For more information about deployment and time-sharing arrangements, contact a Daytona Beach family law attorney from Buckmaster & Ellzey at (888) 785-6548.

Categories: Military Divorce