A fairly new law in Florida helps to address that situation. The law provides several protections for military parents.
First, under the law, the court cannot use the military parent’s deployment as the sole reason to make a permanent change in the existing custody arrangement. For example, a court cannot rule that a military dad who is deployed can only see his children once a month going forward, solely because of his deployment.
If a court does temporarily change a custody order based on a parent’s deployment, the court must provide for contact between the military parent and the children, including contact through phone, webcam, or other means. The court also must provide that once the deployment is over, the prior child custody arrangement is in effect.
During periods of leave from deployment, the military parent must be allowed generous time with the children. The goal of these rules is to protect the bond between the parent and the children during the military service.
Another protection for military parents is that if the parent is deployed for longer than 90 days, and the deployment affects the parent’s ability to comply with the child custody order in place, the parent can designate a person or persons to comply with the arrangement on the parent’s behalf.
The designation can only be a family member, a stepparent, or a relative of the child by marriage. The other parent must have 10 days of notice before the new custody arrangement begins. The other parent can object to the appointment of the other person if it’s not in the best interests of the child.
This type of arrangement could help the deployed parent maintain some type of bond with the child even while he or she is deployed, by exposing the child to the other side of the family.
Child custody issues are tough as it is, but when military deployment is involved, custody is even trickier. If you are a parent in the military and you have questions about your legal issues, call call Florida divorce attorney Dale Bernstein at 727-478-3250. He works in the courts in Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties.