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How does a military deployment affect child custody in Georgia?

We have discussed several issues pertaining to the award and modification of child custody in the State of Georgia. We have, for the most part, kept to talking about general issues that have broad applicability across the population of the state. There are however some particular circumstances which may be worth examining in a basic way. One of these is the effect that being a parent who is also a member of the military might have on such determinations.

Those who serve their country in the armed forces tend to be in a unique position compared to those with other occupations. Because of the nature of military service, it is possible that a military parent will be called to travel for extended periods of time to other places within the United States or overseas. Unlike other occupations, soldiers cannot negotiate these trips with their employer, nor simply quit the job to find one with less travel. For this reason, several states, including Georgia, have, in the last few years, passed legislation that seeks to address these situations in a family law context.

Georgia Code 19-9-3 deals with the discretion judges have in deciding child custody establishment and modification cases, and contains provisions that provide for such situations. For example, the law states that absences of a parent due to military deployment cannot be the sole reason for a decision on an award of custody, though it may be a consideration among other factors. Further, as a general matter, if a child custody order is in place, a court may grant a temporary modification of such order when given notice that one parent is being deployed, so that the deploying parent's parenting time may be delegated to one of his or her extended family, given the court's approval that it in the child's best interests.

Of course, the above is a very simple thumbnail sketch of the law in this area, and given any specific set of circumstances, the issues can become quite complicated. In may be a military parent's best interest to consider contacting an experienced Georgia family lawyer if he or she has questions about his or her rights and responsibilities in case of deployment.

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