Divorce may be inevitable when spouses can not reconcile their marriage with military service obligations. As a military parent, you may worry that your frequent deployments could impact your child custody case.
However, Georgia adjusts the standard child custody process to accommodate military service in the following ways with the Military Parents Rights Act.
Timing for a custody hearing
The law ensures that final custody decisions do not happen until military parents return to their home state unless they agree otherwise. In addition, parents who return from deployment have 90 days to prepare their court cases for child custody.
Eliminating penalization for deployment
Military status and active duty do not factor into a judge’s final child custody decision. Military parents who deploy frequently may still obtain joint or full custody if they can prove their ability to maintain their children’s welfare and provide a stable living environment.
Allowing for proxies
Civilian spouses who share custody with military parents may not ask the court to modify their custody agreements while service members are away. Instead, military parents who share custody must create a family care plan naming a relative as a caregiver who assumes temporary legal and physical custody or visitation rights on their behalf. The document must include child care instructions and indicate how and when a service member intends to resume original custody arrangements upon returning home.
Service members who face the possibility of relocation should consider drafting multiple family care plans or include satisfactory provisions addressing this eventuality to avoid potentially losing custody of their children.
Military service adds a layer of complication to divorces that involve child custody. Fortunately, the law recognizes service members’ rights while protecting their children’s welfare.