Military and Time-Sharing/Visitation Issues in Florida

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney

1344775_south_african_navy_helicopter_.jpgAs a Jacksonville, Florida divorce lawyer, I have many clients that have military ties. When there are military components to the case, often there are things that need to be considered dealing with time-sharing and relocation that do not come up as often in other divorce and paternity case. Time-sharing and relocation issues are often questioned by those going through the divorce or paternity proceedings in Florida because people are used to dealing with terms like visitation and custody, especially when it comes down to which parent is going to spend the majority of time with the child and whether that parent will have the ability to move somewhere else, if the issue arises.

In a military family, deployment and/or moving are often the concerns of the parents. The parents want to make certain that certain provisions are provided for so that there are not unanswered questions when the military calls with orders. Preparing for these changes can be difficult when the family is intact and can cause a riff when they family is separated through divorce or simply never actually lived together. In dealing with these issues the court has had to consider the factors of life for both parents. The truth is that regardless of which parent has majority time-sharing, the realities of military life will impact the separate families.

When determining a parenting and time-sharing plan, as recommended and required by Florida Statute, the truth is that military service can be considered. Florida law provides for time-sharing instead of custody as a way for parents to put the needs of the children first. In order to do that, often it is important to understand the lifestyle of both parents and to accommodate the children’s needs through those lifestyles. A time-sharing plan helps to think through the issues that may arise for visitation, such as holidays, weekends, summer breaks, etc. However, it is also designed so that parents can think through their visitation in the realities of their lives, like military duty. In establishing a time-sharing plan, parents can actually contemplate what may arise in their lives.

For example, a military family with children may consider a 50/50 time-sharing plan if they feel it’s in the best interest of the child. However, there also have to provisions for what to do if/when a parent is transferred to a different base.

Just as the parents can come up with these plans, they can put in provisions for relocation. The parents may agree, through the parenting plan, what the provisions will be for relocation since there may not be enough notice to a parent to provide the notice required under Florida Statute 61.13001.

The idea behind the time-sharing plan is to help parents communicate more effectively regarding the children. To think through things that may arise leads less to the courts and puts more control in the hands of the parties. This can be helpful in raising children because the idea is to co-parent. As long as both parents work together with the common goal of the best interest of the children the more likely they are to promote a balanced relationship for the child with both parents.