Parenting plans: A vital part of any military divorce

In the military, there may always be times when you'll be away. Since you and your spouse are part of the military, you know that following your divorce, you'll have to make special arrangements for your children. If one or both of you is deployed, there is no option but to have a plan in place to protect your children while you're away.

What you need is to create a parenting plan first, then make exceptions for times when you can't be there. Here are a few good examples of what you can do to make sure your children are taken care of.

Parenting plan: Leaving the kids with family

If you live somewhere close to a family member willing to watch your children while you and your ex-spouse deploy, it's a good idea to include this person's information in your parenting plan. For instance, you could include a note that states that your mother or father will take over the care of the children in the case that you and your ex-spouse are unable to do so.

Granting temporary guardianship during that time makes sure your children have somewhere to go without question. Adding this to a parenting plan also makes it legally binding. Your mother, father or your ex-mother- and father-in-law should work with you and your attorney to make sure this is an acceptable and legally binding form of guardianship and to get them the documents they need if and when you are deployed.

Parenting plan: Alternative schedules

If you or your spouse deploys while the other stays in America, it's a good idea to include a subsection for this in your parenting plan. Discuss how it changes visitation or custody rights at the time and upon return. For example, if you deploy for six months, you may wish to spend more time with your children upon return and need to have an alternative schedule designed for that situation. Likewise, if it's your ex-spouse who is deployed instead, you must have information on who will take care of the primary needs of the children and have physical custody during that time and following his or her return.

It is not always easy to be a parent in the military, but by focusing on your custody arrangements in advance, you'll reduce the stress you feel if you or your ex-spouse deploy. With some thought about the future, it's much easier to protect your children and to make sure they have everything they need if or when you or your children's other parent can't be there.

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