Significant and recent changes to Florida law provides military parents with more protection during deployments. The addition to the statute, which became effective July 1, 2011, expressly precludes a court from "grant[ing] a petition for or modification of permanent time-sharing and parental responsibility" due solely to a military parent's "activation, deployment, or temporary assignment to military service". In short, "the resultant temporary disruption to the child [because of the parent's deployment] may not be the sole factor in a court’s decision". A military parent may have to take additional action to fully comply with the statute, which is provided in full below. Contact us to learn how to protect your rights during deployment...
61.13002 Temporary time-sharing modification and child support modification due to military service.
(1) If a supplemental petition or a motion for modification of time-sharing and parental responsibility is filed because a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service and the parent’s ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected as a result, the court may not issue an order or modify or amend a previous judgment or order that changes time-sharing as it existed on the date the parent was activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service, except that a court may enter a temporary order to modify or amend time-sharing if there is clear and convincing evidence that the temporary modification or amendment is in the best interests of the child. However, a parent’s activation, deployment, or temporary assignment to military service and the resultant temporary disruption to the child may not be the sole factor in a court’s decision to grant a petition for or modification of permanent time-sharing and parental responsibility. When entering a temporary order under this section, the court shall consider and provide for, if feasible, contact between the military servicemember and his or her child, including, but not limited to, electronic communication by webcam, telephone, or other available means. The court shall also permit liberal time-sharing during periods of leave from military service, as it is in the child’s best interests to maintain the parent-child bond during the parent’s military service.
(2) If a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service on orders in excess of 90 days and the parent’s ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected as a result, the parent may designate a person or persons to exercise time-sharing with the child on the parent’s behalf. The designation shall be limited to a family member, a stepparent, or a relative of the child by marriage. The designation shall be made in writing and provided to the other parent at least 10 working days before the court-ordered period of time-sharing commences. The other parent may only object to the appointment of the designee on the basis that the designee’s time-sharing visitation is not in the best interests of the child. When unable to reach agreement on the delegation, either parent may request an expedited court hearing for a determination on the designation.
(3) The servicemember and the nonmilitary parent shall cooperate with each other in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of custody, visitation, delegation of visitation, and child support. Each party shall provide information to the other party in an effort to facilitate agreement on custody, visitation, delegation of visitation, and child support. Agreements on designation of persons to exercise time-sharing with the child on the parent’s behalf may also be made at the time of dissolution of marriage or other child custody proceedings.
(4) If a temporary order is issued under this section, the court shall reinstate the time-sharing order previously in effect upon the servicemember parent’s return from active military service, deployment, or temporary assignment.
(5) Upon motion of either parent for enforcement of rights under this section, the court shall, for good cause shown, hold an expedited hearing in custody and visitation matters instituted under this section, and shall permit the servicemember to testify by telephone, video teleconference, webcam, affidavit, or other means where the military duties of the servicemember parent have a material effect on the parent’s ability, or anticipated ability, to appear in person at a regularly scheduled hearing.
(c) Suspending, abating, or reducing the child support obligation of the nonservice member until the custody judgment or time-share order previously in effect is reinstated.
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