Last year, the Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would help protect the parental rights of mothers and fathers serving in the military. Unfortunately, time ran out before the state Senate could consider the bill, so it will have to be re-voted on. However, it seems likely that the bill will pass in the house and again move to the senate.
The bill attempts to solve some of the problems military parents face, such as visitation rights when the parent has to be away for a prolonged period of time. The bill allows the parent to ask the court to delegate parental rights to another one of the child’s family members, not limited to the other parent and including the child’s stepparent.
To illustrate, let’s say the father of a child has custody of the child over the summer, but the father will be away for several weekends and a full week during that time. Instead of simply sending the child back to her other parent, the child could, with the court’s permission, remain with her stepmother while the father is away.
Note that the delegation is not automatic; it is something the court must grant either in the initial parenting plan or in a later modification. But, it is something that will hopefully help separated military parents struggling to provide a beneficial environment for their children.
No matter what your situation is, you should contact a Florida Family Law Attorney if you are facing custody issues. A Florida Family Law Attorney here in Jacksonville can help explain your rights and the options you can take in retaining your parenting rights.