Divorce is often particularly difficult for military families. Due to the demands of serving our country, military divorce cases often involve parental relocations and the need to anticipate fture modifications of child custody orders.
When a service member is ordered to a new duty station, the service member will typically be able to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances sufficient to justify a modification. A possible exception, however, would be the case where the final judgment was entered at a time when the service member knew about the prospective orders or change of duty station.
A petition for modification would need to show that the child's best interests would benefit, taking into account:
- · The ability of the parent to respect the time-sharing schedule
- The positive interaction of the parent with the child’s teachers and friends
- Whether parental responsibilities will be delegated to others
- · The length of time the child has lived with one parent
- · The ability of the parent to subordinate his or her needs to those of the child
- · The amount of travel time necessary to accomplish shared custody
- · The child’s choice as to which parent he or she prefers to live with
- · Whether the parent provides appropriate discipline and schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- · The child’s performance in school
- · The moral fitness of each parent
- · The typical division of parenting tasks before the divorce
- · The physical and mental health of each parent
- · The parent’s ability to communicate the child’s needs to the other parent and to portray decisions as having been jointly made
- · Whether the parent has engaged in domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect
- · Whether the parent has been truthful with the Court regarding his or her behavior
- · The parent’s engagement in the child’s academic and extracurricular activities
- · The willingness of each parent to shield the child from the negative impact of the divorce, such as by not discussing the details of the court case and not making defamatory comments about the other parent
- · Whether the parent has substance abuse issues
- · The ability of each parent to address the child’s developmental needs
When an experienced military divorce attorney prepares a parenting plan for a service member or spouse, the attorney should discuss whether to include a long-distance time-sharing schedule as a default in the event that the service member moves out of the jurisdiction. This anticipated modification of the time-sharing schedule would apply until such time that the court has an opportunity to establish a new time-sharing schedule. One reasons this default schedule might be important is because Florida law does not favor temporary relief in post-judgment modification cases, except where there is an actual demonstrated emergency.
The final divorce judgment may also provide that a change of duty station will constitute a substantial change in circumstances notwithstanding the existence of the default long-distance time-sharing schedule. Without this language, the local parent could argue that the move was known to the parties prior to the entry of the final judgment.
We understand that nothing matters more than the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being of your children. We empathize with our clients and share their belief that children are the number one priority. We can help you navigate the agonizing decisions as to how children will share time with each of parent following a divorce.
If you have questions concerning military relocation or military divorce in Florida, please contact Davis Mockler Law, P.A. to discuss your rights