Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Child Custody 

Active duty military service members may face challenges in maintaining substantial and consistent contact with their children due to deployments. When a time-sharing order is already in place, Florida law provides certain remedies for a deployed parent to ensure that his/her contact is minimally affected. 

Florida law provides that a parenting plan cannot be modified just because a service member is deployed. A temporary order may be entered which provides for liberal time-sharing during the service member's periods of leave, and webcam or other electronic communication that is available during the parent's deployment. 

Although in most cases, time-sharing cannot be granted to anyone other than a parent in Florida, Florida law provides a temporary exception for deployed military parents. If a parent is due to be deployed for more than 90 days, that parent may designate a third party to have time-sharing in his/her absence. The third party must be a family member, step-parent or a relative of the child by marriage.  According to the Florida Statutes, "The designation shall be made in writing and provided to the other parent at least 10 working days before the court-ordered period of time-sharing commences. The other parent may only object to the appointment of the designee on the basis that the designee’s time-sharing visitation is not in the best interests of the child. When unable to reach agreement on the delegation, either parent may request an expedited court hearing for a determination on the designation."

If a hearing must be held because the parents cannot agree on temporary arrangements while the service member is deployed, the deployed parent may be permitted to appear by phone or videoconferencing. If the court establishes a temporary order, child support can be addressed by: 

(a) Entering an order of temporary support from the servicemember to the other parent under s. 61.30;

(b) Requiring the servicemember to enroll the child as a military dependent with DEERs, TriCare, or other similar benefits available to military dependents as provided by the service member’s branch of service and federal regulations; or

(c) Suspending, abating, or reducing the child support obligation of the non-service member until the custody judgment or time-share order previously in effect is reinstated.

Time is of the essence if a parent is due to be deployed and the parents are unable to agree on temporary arrangements for contact and child support. For this reason, it may be important to consult with a Miami child custody lawyer to help you expedite the process and request a hearing to resolve any differences.