What rights do Military Family Members have with regard to visitation of children?
Even though the family member visitation statute was found to be unconstitutional years ago, there is still a type of family member visitation, which has survived. This statute addresses visitation rights for military family members and the benefit inures to the military member.
Specifically, Florida Statute Section 61.13002 generally provides that when a military parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service on orders in excess of ninety (90) days and the parent’s ability to comply with visitation is materially affected as a result of the military absence, the parent may designate a person or persons to exercise visitation with the child(ren) on the parent’s behalf. The designation is limited to a family member, a stepparent, or a relative of the child(ren) by marriage. The designation must be reduced to writing and it must be provided to the other parent at least ten working days before the court-ordered period of visitation is scheduled to start.
If the other parent has received a notice pursuant to this statute, the other parent may object to the designation of visitation but only if the proposed visitation is not in the best interests of the child(ren). If parents are unable to agree on the delegation of visitation in any respect, either parent may request an expedited court hearing to resolve the issue.
This provision was adopted so that each child would still have an opportunity to spend time with the military member’s family if the member is gone for an extended period of time. It is well-established that children adjust to divorce better when they still have access to family members on both sides of the family. This is also an important benefit to military members and they should all acquaint themselves with this statute. This is another situation where the more prudent action would be to hire an attorney to navigate through the requirements of the statute and to ensure a hearing is scheduled timely, if needed.