Helping You Resolve Difficult Issues In Family Law

Don’t skip a crucial step in any military divorce with children

Making the decision to serve in the United States Armed Forces is an admirable one. The life comes with numerous challenges, including balancing work with family life. The stresses put on military families can sometimes result in a breakdown of the marriage and lead to divorce.

When this happens and children are involved, resolving custody issues often requires numerous considerations with which civilian couples don’t have to contend. One of them involves arranging for those times when a deployment occurs. The possibility that the service member will receive orders only hours prior to departure exists. If you serve in the Armed Forces and are in the midst of a divorce with children, you must include a family care plan to deal with this issue.

Why do you need a family care plan?

A little history behind the family care plan may be in order so you can understand its importance. In the first Gulf War, numerous active duty and reserve military members received orders to deploy. Unfortunately, those service members with children did not have a plan in place for the care of their children in their absence. This caused delays in deployment and generally caused a great deal of chaos.

In July 1992, the military stopped accepting recruits who were single parents. If you became a single parent after enlisting, that was acceptable, but you could no longer join if you already had a child to raise on your own. In addition, the military began requiring every service member with children to have a family care plan in order to provide for the care of children in the event of a deployment.

What do you need to include in a family care plan?

The family care plan must include provisions for your children for both short- and long-term deployments. The rules are slightly different. Each requires you to designate a civilian (non-military member) to care for your children in your absence. That individual must agree in writing to take on this responsibility. If you will only be gone for a short time, your care provider must meet the following requirements:

  • Available 24 hours, seven days a week
  • Lives in the local area of the military installation
  • May be a military spouse
  • Provisions for legal, medical and financial support for your children

If your deployment will be for a longer period of time, your care provider must meet the following requirements:

  • May live outside the local area
  • Provide plans to transfer the children from the short-term provider to the long-term provider if different
  • Provisions for legal, medical and financial support for your children
  • Financial provisions for the transport of the children, including a civilian escort

The above represent only the minimum you must include in your family care plan. You will more than likely want to include other provisions, especially if your child has special needs. Your commander must review and approve your family care plan before you submit it to the court along with your custody agreement and parenting plan, so you need to ensure it includes all of the required elements.