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I’m Getting Deployed—What About Timesharing?

Military service adds an extra layer of complication to co-parenting relationships and may interfere with the service member's ability to exercise time sharing consistently. Military service can also make litigation difficult, if not impossible, due to frequent moves and deployments.

In an effort to preserve the parent-child relationship during periods of deployment, Florida adopted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (“UDPCVA”) in 2018. The UDPCVA sets out a simple procedure for modifying time sharing during deployments. The UDPCVA does not apply to permanent changes in station; only to unaccompanied deployments of 18 months or less. If you are PCSing out of the area and need to modify your time sharing, head over to our Relocation Blog for more information.

Under Florida law the service member is required to notify the other parent of a pending deployment within seven days of receiving notice. The service member should also provide a proposal for time sharing and parental responsibility during the deployment. If the parents agree, the service member can “delegate” his or her time sharing and parental responsibility to a third party for the term of the deployment.

If the parents cannot agree to a plan for time sharing during deployment, the service member may file a motion with the court and the court has the authority to grant temporary care taking authority to a non-parent if:

  1. It is in the best interest of the child to do so; and
  2. The non-parent is an adult family member of the child or a non-family member with whom the child has a “close and substantial relationship”.

If there is no one willing or able to exercise regular time sharing with the child during the service member's deployment, the service member may request a grant of “limited contact” with the court, which would allow family members to visit the child from time to time. Under the UDPCVA, the service member is entitled to an expedited hearing, and may be permitted to appear in court, take testimony, and present evidence electronically if he or she is unable to reasonably appear in person. This is a tremendous protection and serves to ease a burden that many service members face when litigating time sharing issues.

Arguably the most important protection provided to service members in the UDPCVA is that, generally, in a proceeding for custodial responsibility of a child of a service member, “a court may not consider a parent’s past deployment or possible future deployment in determining the best interest of the child.” While the UDPCVA does not address the mobility of uniformed services outside the unaccompanied deployment scenario, it does provide a framework for thinking about these issues ahead of time. If you or the other parent is in the military and you are litigating time sharing issues, best practice is to devote a section of your agreement or final judgment to protocol during deployments and permanent changes in duty station so that interference with parent-child relationships are minimized.

If you are a service member involved in custody litigation, or if you would like to develop a plan for time sharing during future deployments, contact an experienced Dadvocacy attorney at (305) 363-6171.

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