Considerations for child custody within a military family
Service members who have children have special considerations that they need to think about if they are in the midst of a child custody case. These are due to the nature of their service and the needs of the children. While it might seem rather daunting to have a custody case in the midst of your time in the military, it doesn't have to be.
Just as in any child custody case, ones involving military parents have to focus on what is best for the children. Because of the nature of the service, there are some points that must be included in the child custody agreement to help ensure that things work as they should.
Family care plan
The family care plan is required by the military because it covers what happens with the kids when their parent is deployed. It must be approved by the commanding officer and has to be updated each year. There are three distinct areas that have to be covered in the care plan.
Care provision details: This includes all instructions on how to care for the children. You should include things like the child's school schedule, medical care information, financial information to help care for the child and other similar information.
Short-term caregiver: This person must live close to the base and can't be in the military. They must be available at any time to care for the children, and must be able to get the children immediately when called. This can be your spouse if that person isn't in the service.
Long-term caregiver: This person cares for the children when you are on a long deployment or if something happens to you that renders you unable to care for them. This person can't be in the military, but they don't have to live close by. If they can't get the children right away when called, the short-term caregiver will be contacted to pick up them up until the long-term caregiver can come.
Visitation during deployment
When you are deployed, you will still need to have contact with the children. For many people, this is done through virtual visitation, which can include video chats, emails and similar methods. The instructions for deployment visitations must be included in the custody agreement. It is also possible that the service member will name another family member, such as their parent, to take their place for in-person visits during the deployment.
It is imperative that you have all of your paperwork in order when you need a custody agreement while you are serving. This can help to ensure your children get what they need and that your rights are protected.