An active member of the military could receive orders to deploy anytime. Because deployments can last months or years, divorcing service members may face child custody concerns. The good news is that military parents in Georgia cannot lose custody of their children because of deployment.
The Georgia Military Parents Rights Act
When one parent is on deployment, the other may try to take advantage of the situation by seeking sole custody of the children. However, the Georgia law recognizes the challenges of military parents and provides protection when it comes to child custody.
- Without consent from the parent in deployment, the court may not issue a final custody order until at least 90 days following the end of the deployment.
- The court may not modify a child custody agreement solely due to the absence of a military parent who was on duty.
- The court must quickly respond to any temporary custody adjustment requests from a parent facing deployment.
Who will care for the child upon deployment?
In most circumstances, the child must remain with the other parent unless the court finds a good cause not to allow it. Military parents often have to arrange a parenting plan specifying with whom the child stays during and after deployment. The other parent is often named, although choosing someone else (such as a grandparent or relative) to care for the child is possible.
However, without the other parent’s agreement, the court can override the family care plan and award them custody. If the other parent does not object to the agreement and the court authorizes it, the parent facing deployment may proceed.
Without a parenting plan, the court usually allows the nondeploying parent to care for the child. If the deploying parent opposes and wishes to leave the child to a third party, they must prove to the judge that the other parent is unfit. However, this is difficult to accomplish because the court typically only approves a third party if the child is in danger.
Courts make custody decisions based on what is best for the child. While one parent is away on deployment, the other has the right to care for the child. If the nondeploying parent violates the deployed parent’s rights, obtaining legal representation may be necessary.