Child custody issues are complicated. These issues are further complicated when a military parent has primary custody of a child and the military parent is suddenly called to active duty and deployed. Deployment and child custody can pose special challenges for service members. Oftentimes, military parents fear losing child custody if the military parent leaves the child with a stepparent or a relative during deployment and the other parent files for custody of the child. Many states have passed laws that seek to address the unique challenges of military parents who miss visitation or give up custody of their children when mobilized, or placed on temporary duty or deployment.
Service Family Care Plan
A family care plan is critical when the service member has primary custody of a child. A family care plan is a document that explains who will care for the service member’s child when the service member is away for training or deployed overseas. The plan must include critical details about custody including who will have short-term custody of the child when the service member has little or no notice before deployment. Having a family care plan will ease the transition of responsibility when a military parent is away.
It is possible that a parenting plan will need to be modified if a military parent expects to be deployed for a year or longer. Depending upon the length of the expected deployment, courts may allow the service member’s spouse or a family member to be responsible for the child while the service member is deployed. This will allow the child to continue going to the same school and live in the same home. In Florida, the law allows military parents to designate a family member, stepparent or relative to engage in time sharing on the parent’s behalf. This flexibility would allow a military parent to designate grandparents or another family member to time share in their absence and maintain primary custody of the child.
Protection Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
The SCRA protects military service members when they are deployed on active duty. The SCRA provides an automatic stay of 90 days for court and administrative proceedings while the service member is deployed. This type of protection helps a service member if they are deployed and find they are facing a child custody challenge. Additionally, the US Department of Defense USA 4 Military Families initiative engages in advocacy with the goal of ensuring that military parents do not lose custody of their child simply because of their military service. Until laws exist to ensure military parents do not lose custody while deployed are enacted, military parents should seek the advice of legal counsel to ensure they understand the impact their deployment will have on their child custody.
The Tampa family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. are familiar with all aspects of military divorce and child custody. Our office is knowledgeable in the area of military divorce and can help you throughout the process. Contact the Tampa family and divorce lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+