Time sharing and Military Service

Time sharing and parental responsibility can become major topics of discussion in the dissolution of a marriage. The Florida Statute title VI, chapter 61, section 61. 13002, specifically addresses the military circumstances and situations that would impact and affect any kind of time sharing or child support. However, there are certain stipulations under this statute that can be easy to overlook. Time sharing and parental responsibility can be petitioned or motioned to modify only “because a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service and the parent’s ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected as a result” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002). There are multiple parts under this statute that help clarify and explain the situations in which child support and time sharing can be modified due to a parent’s responsibility and service to the military.

If a parent is actively serving in the military, it is important to keep in mind that “the court may not issue an order or modify or amend a previous judgment or order that changes time sharing as it existed on the date the parent was activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service, except that a court may enter a temporary order to modify or amend time sharing if there is clear and convincing evidence that the temporary modification or amendment is in the best interests of the child” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002). A court may only adjudicate a temporary order and only if it is of course in the best interest of the child or children involved.

Factors Affecting Time Sharing Modification

However, if there is a motion or petition to modify permanent time sharing or parental responsibility, “a parent’s activation, deployment, or temporary assignment to military service and the resultant temporary disruption to the child may not be the sole factor in a court’s decision to grant a petition for or modification…” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002). Under Florida Statute §61.13002, “if a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service on orders in excess of 90 days and the parent’s ability to comply with time sharing is materially affected as a result, the parent may designate a person or persons to exercise time sharing with the child on the parent’s behalf. The designation shall be limited to a family member, a stepparent, or a relative of the child by marriage.” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002). This designation of time sharing is only applicable if a temporary order was concluded upon by the court. As explained, there are limitations in who may be designated to take over the deployed parents time share with the child. In some cases, this can get complicated and confusing.

Case Example of Mistakes Made and Reversed in Overstreet v. Overstreet

For example, the case of Overstreet v. Overstreet, 244 So. 3d 1182 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018) addresses mistakes made involving who gets designated to exercise the father’s time sharing in a case involving military relocation. In the proceeding of this dissolution of marriage, the former husband was an active member in the U.S. Navy. He designated his parents for his time share with their child when he was stationed out of the country. The former wife objected to this. The court ruled in favor of the father, which the mother then appealed.

The case was reversed and remanded with directions, seeing that the former husband’s station in Guam was a permanent position and relocation. However, designating time sharing in a military relocation case, such as this one, only is applicable in temporary assignments. Therefore, he could not apply the same designation of his timeshare to his parents because his position was permanent. This case helps explain the specific conditions and limitations over how military relocation can influence time sharing and parental responsibility over a child or children.

 Best Interests of the Child Standard

In order to try and make case decisions that benefit and are in the best interests of the child or children, the statute asks that: “The service member and the nonmilitary parent shall cooperate with each other in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of custody, visitation, delegation of visitation, and child support. Each party shall provide information to the other party in an effort to facilitate agreement on custody, visitation, delegation of visitation, and child support. Agreements on designation of persons to exercise time sharing with the child on the parent’s behalf may also be made at the time of dissolution of marriage or other child custody proceedings.” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002).

In any and all cases involving children, it is always of utmost importance the BIOTC standard applies. It is important for parents to cooperate in order to keep things civil and remain focused on what is best for their child or children. Everything is taken into consideration in order to determine what may or may not be in the best interests of the child or children. These military relocation cases are no different. And a child’s best interests are always a priority. However, as soon as the parent serving in the military returns, “the court shall reinstate the time sharing order previously in effect” (Fla. Stat. §61.13002).

One Parent Must Be Actively Serving in United States Military

One major factor ordering the modification of time-sharing or parental responsibility under this statute is that one of the parents must be actively serving under a branch of the United States military. In the case of Canino v. Canino, 125 So. 3d 990 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013), the former husband tried to apply Florida Statute §61.13002. A couple years before this case, the parties had already established their dissolution of marriage, but the former wife was now moving out of state. In order to accommodate to the mother’s relocation, the circuit court entered an order to modify the time sharing schedule already established.

However, the mother moved back to Florida a couple years later, leading the former husband to file a motion of contempt against her. The circuit court denied his request, and their ruling was affirmed. The father attempted to contend that under Florida Statute §61.13002, the original time sharing agreement needed to be reinstated. However, this statute only pertains and is relevant to parents actively serving in the military. Neither of the individuals involved were serving in the military in a relative period of time to this case, thus the statute is inapplicable.

Conclusion

Any case involving child support, time sharing, or parental responsibility can become complicated pretty quickly. The universal priority should remain in the best interests of the child or children involved in the dissolution of a marriage. Relocation involving children can be a complicated process by itself. However there are some different terms and conditions involved when one of the parents is an active member of the military. Florida Statute §61.13002 helps to make the process more explicit in what can and cannot be required when it comes to relocation due to deployment, or other temporary assignments. Whether specific to active military personnel or not, it is always important to put the best interests of the child first in any case.

 

 

References:

 https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2016/61.13002

Overstreet v. Overstreet, 244 So. 3d 1182 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2018)

Canino v. Canino, 125 So. 3d 990 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013)