Members of our nation’s armed services and their families make enormous sacrifices on a daily basis. For some service members, the reality is that they must leave children behind during their absence. When a military parent receives temporary duty, deployment, activation, or mobilization orders, there may be options available to request a judicial delegation of their parenting time.
Under Arizona law, military parents who receive orders that involve moving a substantial distance away from their home, or that would otherwise substantially interfere with their ability to exercise parenting time, may request that a court delegate their parenting time to a family member. Deploying military parents may also request that their parenting time be delegated to a step-parent or any other person who has a close and substantial relationship with the child. Very often, the above scenario plays out in the context of a military member wishing to delegate his or her parenting time during deployment to a new spouse or significant other.
The court process often take months to resolve, so it is best to contact an attorney as soon as orders are received. Once the actual hearing has been held, courts may delegate all or part of a military parent’s parenting time for up to the entire duration of the deployment. Upon the return of the military parent, the original parenting time schedule generally must be phased back in within a relatively short period of time.
Judges sitting over delegation cases remain free to make case-by-case decisions based on the best interests of the children involved. That being the case, there is no guarantee that a delegation request will automatically be granted. When the potential caretaker has had a very long and close relationship with the child, judges are generally more likely to approve a delegation. The opposite can be said when the child or children have not historically had a close relationship with the delegee.
Because delegation of parenting time in these contexts is permissive, rather than mandatory, litigants will almost certainly benefit from hiring an attorney with experience in these types of cases.
If you or someone you know will soon be deploying, and parenting time could potentially present an issue, contact attorney Michael Girgenti at 480-344-4899.