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Military service members always face the threat of deployment. Deployments are often sudden, leaving little time to prepare for family needs. Making on-the-spot family decisions can create extra stress. Military couples who are seeking dissolution of marriage face complicated considerations when it comes to child custody. Some families find that creating a “Family Care Plan” can protect custodial rights and the well-being of children.

Managing child custody disputes for active service members is a unique challenge for military families. If you are in the middle of a child custody dispute, a Family Care Plan may be a useful tool for finding an agreeable resolution and avoid further conflict. It can clarify necessary details about the care of your child during your deployment and help protect your parental rights.

Elements of a Family Care Plan

The Department of Defense requires its service members who are single parents, married dual-military couples and legal guardians to have an up-to-date Family Care Plan. Those who are legally responsible for an adult family member who is incapable of providing for him or herself must also have a Family Care Plan.

A Family Care Plan is designed to provide guidelines for family care during your absence. Important information should include:

  • Childcare guidelines
  • Medical information
  • Arrangements for daily activities
  • A list of close contacts and resources
  • The location of critical documents such as vaccination records and birth certificates
  • Information about your financial matters

If both parents are in the military, you should write a family plan that outlines what happens if both parents are deployed at the same time. It should also include short-term and long-term caretaker information.

Whether you are facing a divorce, child custody dispute or both, this is a challenging time that can be made easier with clear lines of communication. A Family Care Plan creates a concrete outline of actions in the event of an unexpected or long-term deployment and establishes military readiness for every member of the family.