You will need to address several issues during your divorce, and it can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you have children. Deciding how to split time with them between you and your future former spouse could require some intense negotiations.
For most people, creating a parenting plan is the end of this struggle, but for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, such as you, another step remains. The military requires you to create a plan to care for your children during deployment.
The family care plan
During Desert Shield, delays and chaos occurred while military parents arranged for the care of their children during deployment. This resulted in two things in July 1992: The requirement for family care plans and the prohibition of single parents enlisting in the military. As a result, couples with at least one military member must include a family care plan in their child custody arrangements as part of a divorce. Even though some variations exist from branch to branch, all plans must include the following:
- You must choose someone not in the military who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take care of your children for the short term. This person can be the other parent, as long as he or she is a civilian and lives close by.
- You must also choose someone not in the military who can take care of your children for extended periods, such as during an unaccompanied tour overseas or while on board a ship. This person does not have to live close to you, but you must make arrangements for the care to transfer from the short-term caretaker to this person.
- You must make provisions for the financial support of your children during your absence.
- You should execute any necessary powers of attorney needed to care for your children.
- Each branch of service allows for your care provider or providers to enjoy access to the commissary, post or base exchange, and medical facilities, among other things, on the closest military installation in order to help provide for the children's needs. However, these services are only available while caring for your children.
- If your child has any particular needs, it would help to outline them in the plan as well.
The short-term and long-term caregivers will need to sign your family care plan, indicating that they will take on this responsibility. Once complete, your commanding officer needs to review the plan and sign off on it. Even reservists need such a plan in case they receive orders for active duty status. Moreover, your terms could remain the same as the plan you already had in place, but if you want to make changes to it, now is the time.
You could add this plan to your child custody agreement and parenting plan that you will present to a Kansas court during your divorce. The court will want to know that the child's best interests remain a priority for you and the other parent, and your family care plan is part of that since it directly affects your children's well-being.