Divorce is never easy. But it can be a particularly challenging objective for a family with one or both spouses in the military. Much of this is attributed to the lifestyle that military families lead - long deployments, modest incomes, and a lot of moving around. Uncle Sam also considers it critical that a Family Care Plan is in place when there at least one parent serving. One of the most important factors in military family readiness, Family Care Plans apply to married and divorced families.
Like a Child Custody Plan but different
A Family Care Plan outlines what happens to the children or other dependents (such as elderly family members or others unable to take care of themselves). Because of the unique professional lifestyle of the military parent, the following three contingencies are built into a military divorce with a Family Care Plan.
A short-term caretaker is someone who lives near the base and who can step in at any time, day or night, to care for the family. It cannot be a member of the military, but it can be a military spouse.
A long-term caretaker is someone who will take care of the dependants in case one or both parents are deployed. They need not live locally, but also must not be a member of the military.
Care provision details
These are the specific instructions of how the kids are to be cared for. These should include contingency for how any medical procedure is undertaken and health insurance info. It should also include bank account numbers, passwords and other important information for access of funds. It should include a will as well as powers of attorney so that the caretakers can act on behalf of the deployed spouse. As with a non-military childcare plan, it will say how the children are supposed to be transferred back and forth between caretakers, and how they are to be educated. There should be a lot of thought in making the transition between the two homes as be as smooth as possible.
The Family Care Plan must be reviewed by the commanding officer of the service member parent. It must also be updated annually or as circumstances change. If the military spouse is the primary caretaker and deployed, and the other biological parent lives apart and is not a caretaker, that other parent needs to sign papers that show consent for this arrangement.
The Family Care Plan is a legal contract and shouldn't conflict with other legal arrangements like divorce decree, estate plan or custody order. The military provides legal counsel through the Office of Staff Judge Advocate to review documents and make sure that all the arrangements are correct, but it's also advisable that spouses seek out legal counsel as well. A civilian lawyer specializing in military divorce will often have the background to help ensure all parental rights are protected and the dependants are well cared for.