The presence of children can make divorce matters complex, more so if one of the parents is deployed in military service. At least in the abstract, it would seem incredibly harsh for a parent to lose timesharing with the child because of his or her military service. Sometimes, though, the other parent may take the opportunity to limit timesharing when a parent is away on military duty.

In such cases, Florida Statute 61.13002 offers some relief. The court may order a time-sharing modification, but only if that is in the best interest of the child. The court will facilitate time-sharing between the child and the military service member. The court shall consider and provide for, if feasible, contact between the military service member and his or her child, including options such as electronic communication by webcam, telephone, or other available means.

If the military parent’s time-sharing with the child gets affected as a result of the individual’s deployment in the military for more than 90 days, then this parent may designate another person to exercise time-sharing with the child on his or her behalf. However, this designation is usually limited to a family member, such as step parent, or a relative of the child by marriage. Again, though, this is done in the best interest of the child.

Under the law, this time-sharing designation will be given at least 10 days before the child custody order of the court resumes. The other parent will be able to object only if that is not in the best interest of the child. If the child’s parents are not able to come to an agreement about the designated parent, then they may request a court hearing in this matter.

The intent of the statute is to maintain the strength of the parent-child relationship even when a service member, who is often on active military duty, is going through a divorce. For those facing issues that involve military service and need help with divorce, child custody or other aspects of family law, understanding the various legal mechanisms is a great first step towards a positive resolution.