Georgia Child Custody with Military Personnel

Georgia Custody Effects On Military Personnel

Georgia considers the effect of custody on Military Personnel in Title 19-9-3.  Georgia weighs many of the diverse effects of custody on military personnel and has set out structured guidelines for both parents and the Court.

Title 19-9-3. Custody of child; best interest of child factors, provides verbatim:

(i) Notwithstanding other provisions of this article, whenever a military parent is deployed, the following shall apply:

(1) A court shall not enter a final order modifying parental rights and responsibilities under an existing parenting plan earlier than 90 days after the deployment ends, unless such modification is agreed to by the deployed parent;

(2) Upon a petition to establish or modify an existing parenting plan being filed by a deploying parent or nondeploying parent, the court shall enter a temporary modification order for the parenting plan to ensure contact with the child during the period of deployment when:

(a) A military parent receives formal notice from military leadership that he or she will deploy in the near future, and such parent has primary physical custody, joint physical custody, or sole physical custody of a child, or otherwise has parenting time with a child under an existing parenting plan; and

(b) The deployment will have a material effect upon a deploying parent’s ability to exercise parental rights and responsibilities toward his or her child either in the existing relationship with the other parent or under an existing parenting plan;

(3) Petitions for temporary modification of an existing parenting plan because of a deployment shall be heard by the court as expeditiously as possible and shall be a priority on the court’s calendar;

(4)(a) All temporary modification orders for parenting plans shall include a reasonable and specific transition schedule to facilitate a return to the predeployment parenting plan over the shortest reasonable time period after the deployment ends, based upon the child’s best interest.

(b) Unless the court determines that it would not be in the child’s best interest, a temporary modification order for a parenting plan shall set a date certain for the anticipated end of the deployment and the start of the transition period back to the predeployment parenting plan. If a deployment is extended, the temporary modification order for a parenting plan shall remain in effect, and the transition schedule shall take effect at the end of the extension of the deployment. Failure of the nondeploying parent to notify the court in accordance with this paragraph shall not prejudice the deploying parent’s right to return to the predeployment parenting plan once the temporary modification order for a parenting plan expires as provided in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph.

(c) A temporary modification order for a parenting plan shall expire upon the completion of the transition period and the predeployment parenting plan shall establish the rights and responsibilities between parents for the child;

(5) Upon a petition to modify an existing parenting plan being filed by a deploying parent and upon a finding that it serves the best interest of the child, the court may delegate for the duration of the deployment any portion of such deploying parent’s parenting time with the child to anyone in his or her extended family, including but not limited to an immediate family member, a person with whom the deploying parent cohabits, or another person having a close and substantial relationship to the child. Such delegated parenting time shall not create any separate rights to such person once the period of deployment has ended;

(6) If the court finds it to be in the child’s best interest, a temporary modification order for a parenting plan issued under this subsection may require any of the following:

(a) The nondeploying parent make the child reasonably available to the deploying parent to exercise his or her parenting time immediately before and after the deploying parent departs for deployment and whenever the deploying parent returns to or from leave or furlough from his or her deployment;

(b) The nondeploying parent facilitate opportunities for the deployed parent to have regular and continuing contact with his or her child by telephone, e-mail exchanges, virtual video parenting time through the Internet, or any other similar means;

(c) The nondeploying parent not interfere with the delivery of correspondence or packages between the deployed parent and child of such parent; and

(d) The deploying parent provide timely information regarding his or her leave and departure schedule to the nondeploying parent;

(7) Because actual leave from a deployment and departure dates for a deployment are subject to change with little notice due to military necessity, such changes shall not be used by the nondeploying parent to prevent contact between the deployed parent and his or her child;

(8) A court order temporarily modifying an existing parenting plan or other order governing parent-child rights and responsibilities shall specify when a deployment is the basis for such order and it shall be entered by the court only as a temporary modification order or interlocutory order;

(9) A relocation by a nondeploying parent during a period of a deployed parent’s absence and occurring during the period of a temporary modification order for a parenting plan shall not act to terminate the exclusive and continuing jurisdiction of the court for purposes of later determining custody or parenting time under this chapter;

(10) A court order temporarily modifying an existing parenting plan or other order shall require the nondeploying parent to provide the court and the deploying parent with not less than 30 days’ advance written notice of any intended change of residence address, telephone numbers, or e-mail address;

(11) Upon a deployed parent’s final return from deployment, either parent may file a petition to modify the temporary modification order for a parenting plan on the grounds that compliance with such order will result in immediate danger or substantial harm to the child, and may further request that the court issue an ex parte order. The deployed parent may file such a petition prior to his or her return. Such petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit in support of the requested order. Upon a finding of immediate danger or substantial harm to the child based on the facts set forth in the affidavit, the court may issue an ex parte order modifying the temporary parenting plan or other parent child contact in order to prevent immediate danger or substantial harm to the child. If the court issues an ex parte order, the court shall set the matter for hearing within ten days from the issuance of the ex parte order;

(12) Nothing in this subsection shall preclude either party from filing a petition for permanent modification of an existing parenting plan under subsection (b) of this Code section; provided, however, that the court shall not conduct a final hearing on such petition until at least 90 days after the final return of the deploying parent. There shall exist a presumption favoring the predeployment parenting plan or custody order as one that still serves the best interest of the child, and the party seeking to permanently modify such plan or order shall have the burden to prove that it no longer serves the best interest of the child;

(13) When the deployment of a military parent has a material effect upon his or her ability to appear in person at a scheduled hearing, then upon request by the deploying parent and provided reasonable advance notice is given to other interested parties, the court may allow a deployed parent to present testimony and other evidence by electronic means for any matter considered by the court under this subsection.

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “electronic means” shall include, but not be limited to, communications by telephone, video teleconference, Internet connection, or electronically stored affidavits or documents sent from the deployment location or elsewhere; (14)(A) When deployment of a military parent appears imminent and there is no existing parenting plan or other order setting forth the parent’s rights and responsibilities, then upon a petition filed by either parent the court shall:

(i) Expedite a hearing to establish a temporary parenting plan;

(ii) Require that the deploying parent shall have continued access to the child, provided that such contact is in the child’s best interest;

(iii) Ensure the disclosure of financial information pertaining to both parties;

(iv) Determine the child support responsibilities under Code Section 19-6-15 of both parents during the deployment; and

(v) Determine the child’s best interest and consider delegating to any third parties with close contacts to the child any reasonable parenting time during the deployment. In deciding such request the court shall consider the reasonable requests of the deployed parent.

(b) Any pleading filed to establish a parenting plan or child support order under this paragraph shall be identified at the time of filing by stating in the text of the pleading the specific facts related to the deployment and by referencing this paragraph and subsection of this Code section;

(15) When an impending deployment precludes court expedited adjudication before deployment, the court may agree to allow the parties to arbitrate any issues as allowed under Code Section 19-9-1.1, or order the parties to mediation under any court established alternative dispute resolution program. For purposes of arbitration or mediation, each party shall be under a duty to provide to the other party information relevant to any parenting plan or support issues pertaining to the children or the parties;

(16) Each military parent shall be under a continuing duty to provide written notice to the nondeploying parent within 14 days of the military parent’s receipt of oral or written orders requiring deployment or any other absences due to military service that will impact the military parent’s ability to exercise his or her parenting time with a child. If deployment orders do not allow for 14 days’ advance notice, then the military parent shall provide written notice to the other parent immediately upon receiving such notice; and

(17) A military parent shall ensure that any military family care plan that he or she has filed with his or her commander is consistent with any existing court orders for his or her child. In all instances any court order will be the first course of action for the care of a child during the absence of a military parent, and the military family care plan will be the alternative plan if the nondeploying parent either refuses to provide care for the child or acknowledges an inability to provide reasonable care for the child. A military parent shall not be considered in contempt of any court order or parenting plan when he or she in good faith implements his or her military family care plan based upon the refusal or claimed inability of a nondeploying parent to provide reasonable care for a child during a deployment.

GEORGIA RESOURCE LINE

1-877-423-4746

Note:  The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in the state of Georgia and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case.  After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to About The Children.

Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal

www.AboutTheChildren.org

(800) 787-4981

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Posted in Child Custody, Georgia Guidelines, Military

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