The question of child custody is constantly on the mind of every parent who is considering filing for legal separation or divorce. However, future child custody issues should not have to be considered when one is deciding whether to join the United States military. Unfortunately, for many parents, their decision to join the military has had an effect on their ability to retain child custody. Due to the high number of military personnel, both active-duty and reserve, in Florida, the issue of child custody and the military is very important to many Floridians.
One story tells of a mother who is also a member of the Air National Guard. She and her husband divorced in 2010. They agreed on nearly all the conditions of the divorce — except child custody. The custody battle led to the mother losing full custody of her children in April 2012. The judge, according to the divorce decree, gave full custody to the children´s father due to the mother´s military service.
Stories similar to this one abound, and one U.S. Representative has decided to fight for the rights of military parents. Representative Michael Turner has introduced legislation that aims to set a federal standard for child custody decisions in which one or both parents are members of the U.S. military. He wants a federal law enacted that prohibits states from using a parent´s military service against him or her in child custody hearings.
Currently, Representative Turner´s legislation is battling its way through Congress. Until it, or similar legislation, passes, military parents will still have to fight hard for their right to child custody. In Florida, a military parent facing a child custody decision would do well to gain an understanding of the applicable laws and procedures affecting their proceedings.