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How will deployment affect chances of child custody?

For Florida military families, divorce can cause more complex issues than for civilian families. For one thing, military parents must always keep in mind the potential for reassignment or deployment when considering child custody issues. The fluid life of a service member means being ready at a moment's notice when an assignment requires a move to another part of the country or world. Technically, this should not affect the outcome of a child custody ruling, but unfortunately, it often does impact a court decision.

Deployment is a disruption to the life of a family, and courts tend to agree that the best interests of the child include protecting them from such an upheaval. However, a service member who shares custody of his or her children must be prepared for the possibility of deployment by creating a family care plan. This plan designates trusted friends and family members to take care of the children day or night if the service member is activated to duty without warning.

The plan stipulates who will provide temporary care and who will give long-term guardianship to the children during the parent's deployment. The plan also includes specific instruction for care, including medications, personal preferences and sometimes powers of attorney. Following a divorce, a service member must revise the family care plan and have it certified by a judge.

Parents in Florida want the best for their children. It may be frustrating if the court determines one's military service and the threat of deployment prevents a parent from gaining custody of the children following a divorce. Many find that seeking legal advice and assistance during custody proceedings offers the best chances for obtaining a fair hearing and the protection of one's parental rights.

Source: Findlaw, "Military Child Custody: Key Legal Issues", May 7, 2018

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