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How does active military duty impact child support?

If you are a parent who is paying child support and has been activated into active duty by the military, here is what you need to know regarding your responsibilities towards your child. These include issues such as time-sharing, as well as child support modification and the rights to which you are entitled.

If your military activation will result in disruption of your normal lifestyle in excess of 90 days and, as a result, will affect your ability to comply with your designated visitation rights, you may, at your discretion, designate a single person or multiple people to spend time with your child on your behalf. The pool of possible designees must be limited to family members, stepparents or relatives of the child by marriage.

The request for such a designation must be submitted in writing and notice to the other parent must be provided at least ten working days prior to the court-ordered time-sharing schedule is to begin. The other parent may object to any designees who are requested on the grounds that it won't be in the child's best interest to spend time. If parents cannot agree on this issue, then you have the right to request an expedited court hearing to settle the dispute. The other parent also may petition the court for temporary support from the military parent for the duration of the military activation.

Under Florida law, the court also may require the military parent to enroll the child as a dependent with military benefits programs such as DEERs, TriCare or other similar benefits. Available benefits may differ based on a parent's branch of service and federal law. The court also may temporarily suspend or reduce the child support obligation of the non-military parent until further order of the court reinstating the obligation.

Generally, it would be ideal for both parents to cooperate and reach a mutually agreed-upon resolution regarding child visitation and child support in good faith. The parents should exchange any information that will facilitate the mutual resolution of any discrepancy in a timely manner. In cases which an agreement cannot be reached, talking with a family law attorney may help.

Source: 2014 Florida Statutes, "Temporary time-sharing modification and child support modification due to military service," accessed Oct. 21, 2014

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