Parenting Time And Military Divorce
When two people divorce, custody of their children is one of the most hotly debated issues. In Florida, the best interests of the child or children is the most important factor that the court will consider. However, when one or both parents are in the military, the process of determining exactly what the best interests of the child actually are can get more complex. If you are a member of the military, it is important to understand exactly how the court makes this type of determination.
Must Act In The Best Interests Of The Child
Florida’s law lays out a list of different factors that a court can consider in determining a workable parenting time schedule. Some include:
- The ability of each parent to be able to work together toward the best interests of their children, as opposed to working in their own interests;
- The length of time that the children have lived in the same stable environment, and how important it will be to maintain continuity for them;
- The child’s reasonable preference, if they are old enough to express it with “intelligence, understanding, and experience;”
- The moral, physical, emotional, and financial health of both parents;
- Any history of child neglect or domestic violence; and
- Any other factor that the court deems relevant.
If one or both parents are in the military, the frequency of deployment will be another factor that the court considers. Deployment means instability, in most cases, and the court will generally not be in favor of uprooting young children any more frequently than necessary. However, this is not a deal-breaker in the sense of the military parent being denied custody entirely.
Protections For Deployed Parents
If you and your spouse are able to work out a parenting plan, or the court is able to reach an equitable arrangement, and a parent later winds up being deployed, it might be necessary to make a change to the parenting plan, but the law specifically protects the rights of the deployed parent. For example, Florida law explicitly states that deployment does not constitute abandonment of a child, and forbids the alteration of the parenting time agreement while the military parent is on active duty.
More specifically, the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) prohibits default judgments in civil lawsuits while a servicemember is deployed. Divorces and child custody are civil matters, and they usually require a response from the person being served; failure to respond will usually result in a default judgment being issued against that person. If you or your former spouse are deployed, however, you are generally out of reach for service of process. The SCRA prevents your spouse from unilaterally obtaining custody of your children while you are unable to reply to their filing.
Contact A Hollywood Military Divorce Attorney
It can be difficult to strike the right balance between one’s family and one’s career, and a divorce can throw that into sharp relief. Because of the possibility of deployment, a military parent needs an experienced Hollywood military divorce attorney to handle their child custody matter, to ensure that all the little details are managed. The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. handle these matters frequently, and is ready to try and help you with yours. Contact the offices today at (954) 963-5900 to schedule a consultation.