When the military relocates a divorced spouse who is a service member away from the other ex-spouse, what happens with the kids?
You can imagine a number of different, potentially difficult situations that could evolve when two ex-spouses have minor children and one is deployed into military service. One day, they are living according to the terms of their divorce regarding custody, parental responsibility and visitation. The next day, they learn that because one of them will be deployed away from home, they will not be able to adhere to the parenting plan that was approved in the divorce – whether one negotiated between them or crafted by the judge – to provide parenting arrangements in the children’s best interests.
Of course, they may have negotiated an agreement about what will happen as far as custody, visitation and parental decision-making is concerned in case of a deployment if the military spouse had already enlisted. In that case, Florida law recognizes such an agreement. Or, the divorce decree may already provide for arrangements during a deployment.
Florida’s adoption of Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act
Because of the difficulty this scenario can present, Florida adopted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA), effective July 1, 2018. The UDPCVA is legislation drafted by the Uniform Law Commission (ULA), a panel of legal experts that creates laws for potential adoption by individual states on topics governed by state laws.
As of this writing on Jan. 27, 2020, 14 states, including Florida, have adopted the UDPCVA, which each state legislature may modify as it deems appropriate.
In part 2 of this post, we will provide information about the Florida’s UDPCVA.