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Child custody in military divorce: family care plans

All divorcing parents should create a parenting plan outlining the child's primary residence, a schedule for parenting time, holidays, transportation and other factors. It is especially important for divorcing military parents to create such an agreement given the possibility of reassignments and overseas deployments. While civilian parenting plans and military family care plans are similar in many ways, there are some special considerations for military couples.

Service members who are either single parents or who are married to another service member must create a family care plan if they have custody of a child under the age of 19. Family care plans for military parents must designate a short-term caretaker. This person cannot be a member of the military and must be able to be on-call to take care of the children. A long-term caretaker must also be designated. This person must also not be a member of the military and will take care of the children in case of extended deployment. Contact information for both caretakers must be included in the plan.

The plan must also include instructions on caretaking for the children including details regarding transportation to the caretakers' homes, information on the children's medical care and child support in the event of the military parent's deployment or death. It must also include passwords, bank account details and any necessary powers of attorney. A new plan must be created in the event of a birth, death or divorce and must be reviewed by the military parent's commanding officer.

Family care plans must not conflict with other legal documents. It may be prudent to incorporate the family care plan into the child custody order in order to avoid misunderstandings or potential legal issues. An attorney experienced in military divorce can review parenting plans to ensure that all requirements are met and that there are no conflicts.

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