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Child Custody Issues In Military Divorce


One of the most hotly contested issues in any divorce is the question of child custody (also called parental responsibility). Divorces involving military personnel are no exception – after all, every good parent wants to be able to help raise their children. It is the public policy of Florida courts (and the Florida legislature) to always act in the best interests of the child or children involved in matters of law, and that may not always accord with a parent’s wishes. When one parent is a military servicemember, though, certain exceptional circumstances must be evaluated.

Deployment Does Not Equal Abandonment

Florida law, in general, acts on the presumption that it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both of their parents, unless something has happened to cast doubt on that (for example, if one parent has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence). While normally, a parent not being present in their child’s life for a certain period of time might be grounds to award custody to the other parent, it is important to know that the mere act of deployment is not sufficient reason for a military parent to lose custody.

It is common, true, that a court will choose to grant custody to the non-deployed parent. However, that choice will primarily be based on a wish for stability in the child’s life, rather than any presumed lack on the part of the parent. It is also important to keep in mind that while one parent is deployed, custody arrangements may not be modified unless it can be shown that a failure to do so would actively harm the child. A servicemember can argue their claim for custody solely on its merits.

Relocation Can Cause Problems

One other aspect of parental responsibility and time-sharing that can prove problematic during a military divorce is the issue of relocation. Normally, a parent who wishes to relocate with their child by 50 miles or more must obtain the permission of the other parent – failure to do so can open up a person to contempt charges, or in extreme cases, charges of parental kidnapping. A military servicemember who receives new orders must also obtain permission from their co-parent before moving with their kids; there is no exception for command moves.

If a military spouse chooses to flout this regulation, or if they fail to provide the appropriate amount of child support as agreed in their final judgment of divorce, it is possible for their commanding officers to get involved in the case. If the nonmilitary spouse has a court order for child support or spousal support, the military spouse’s superiors may be able to force or threaten sufficient consequences for the servicemember to comply.

Call A Hollywood, FL Military Divorce Attorney

If you and your spouse plan to divorce, be aware that there are different requirements and responsibilities than there would be in a divorce between two civilians. A Hollywood family attorney from the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can attempt to answer any questions you may have about the process, and to work with you in order to help you arrive at the fairest possible outcome. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.



Hollywood Military Divorce Attorney
The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A., is located in Hollywood, FL and serves clients in and around Dania, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, North Miami Beach, Pompano Beach, Miami, Pembroke Pines, Miami Beach, Deerfield Beach, Hallandale, Aventura, Boca Raton, Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County.

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Hollywood, FL 33021
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