When a military member is provided with an order of deployment there are many items to consider and account for. Minor children, their care, and contact while you are deployed is one of the first concerns servicemembers embarking on a deployment are contemplating. To account for the time a servicemember is deployed, the Florida adopted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. The details of this act will provide you with a guideline regarding your deployment and minor children. If you have minor children and are going to be deployed, speak to a child custody attorney to determine your rights under this act and discuss your specific case and details.
The UDPCVA was created in 2012 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, with the purpose of protecting military parents during their deployments. The UPPCVA was adopted by Florida legislatures in 2018, and is found in Florida Chapter 61.
The first requirement under this act is for the military member to notify the co-parent within 7 days of receiving orders for deployment and provide a proposed plan for custodial responsibility during the time of deployment within a reasonable time.
Co-parents may enter a temporary child custody agreement outside of court, and this agreement may be modified by mutual consent of the parties prior to, or during the deployment of the military member. However, this agreement is required to be in writing, signed and include the following details:
- “Identify location, duration, and conditions of deployment;
- Specify the allocation of caretaking authority, any decision making authority that accompanies that caretaking authority among the parties to the agreement and any grant of limited contact to a nonparent;
- Provide a process to resolve any dispute that may arise;
- Specify the frequency, duration, and means, including electronic, by which a deploying parent will have contact with the child, any role to be played by the other parent or nonparent in facilitating contact, and allocate any costs of contact;
- Acknowledge the agreement does not modify any existing child support obligation;
- Provide that the agreement will terminate according to the Act after the deploying parent returns from deployment; and
- Specify which parent is required to file the agreement, if the agreement must be filed with a court that has entered an order relating to custody or child support of the child.”
If the parties cannot agree, either parent may file a motion to enter a temporary order regarding child custody. The court is required to expedite the hearing on these motions, and allows for virtual hearings. The temporary order will include the same details provided above in the agreement.
If no other parent retains legal responsibility for the child other than the military member, they may designate an adult to retain custodial responsibility for the child. Further, if there is a co-parent, the military member may still designate an individual to retain caretaking authority for the child, as a substitute for their absence. This temporary caretaker must be “an adult family member of the child or an adult with whom the child has a close and substantial relationship.” This designation must be filed with the court and the authority granted to the caretaker must not exceed the custodial time granted to the military member in the original child custody order.
To terminate the temporary child custody order, the parties must file an agreement with the court. The agreement will terminate on the date specified in the agreement to terminate, or on the date the parents signed the agreement. If no agreement is filed, the temporary custody determination will terminate 30 days after the military member provides notice of their return.
The Federal Government goes to great lengths to protect military members and their families. One of these methods of protection comes in the form of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act. If you are getting deployed and share minor children, consult with an attorney to discuss how this act will affect your child custody rights and guide the future with your children during your deployment.
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