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Military service doesn't mean you can't have custody of a child

There are many challenges associated with military life. One of the impacts that some people might not think about right away is how being in the service can affect child custody.

Gone are the days when military service meant that a person couldn't have custody of their children. Now, military members don't have to choose between having custody of their children or continuing their military service. Instead, they will need to create a family care plan.

Purpose of a family care plan

The purpose of a family care plan is to ensure that your children are taken care of if you are deployed or if something happens to you. This care plan must be completed or you face an involuntary discharge from the military.

Family care plans must be approved by a commanding officer before they are considered valid. Until the plan is validated, you are placed on a non-deployable status. You will usually have 30 days to complete one if you are active duty and 60 days if you are on a reserve status. It is possible for a commanding officer to extend the timeframe by an additional 30 days.

Cases that require a family care plan

Not all parents have to complete a family care plan. Single parents who have primary custody of a child and families in which both parents are in the military must complete a family care plan. Non-custodial parents need a family care plan if the child will reside with them for at least 30 continuous days at a time.

You would also need to complete a family care plan if you are the guardian of a person who has special needs, even if that person isn't your child.

Points to include in the family care plan

The family care plan must address specific issues related to child custody. You have to include who is going to care for your child in a short-term situation, such as a training deployment. You also need to include who is going to care for the child in a long-term deployment. The people you name in these situations need to sign the form, which lets your commanding officer know that they agree to the responsibilities.

You will also need to include financial information that will enable the person to have access to funds to care for the child. Guardianship designations, arrangements to have IDs taken care of and similar points must also be included in these family care plans.

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