Like other California parents facing a divorce, your primary concern is more than likely what will happen to your children. While you will need to make numerous decisions regarding custody just like everyone else, your situation requires even further considerations if you serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Your time with your children is precious, but your commitment as a military service member could require deployment, which will take you away from your children for weeks or months, perhaps even more than a year. As part of your custody arrangements, you must create a family care plan to address the possibility of deployment.
Primary considerations in a family care plan
A family care plan includes much more than just who will take care of your children during your absence. You need to consider the following matters to ensure your child receives the same care you would provide:
- Even though you chose one or more people to care for your child, consider alternative individuals just in case since the circumstances of people's lives can change without notice.
- Your caregiver needs to know about your children's lives, such as extracurricular and school activities, childcare, and more. Keeping your children's routines as consistent as possible in your absence can help them better deal with it.
- You will still need to provide financially for your children while deployed. You need to arrange to get money to your chosen caregiver for the care of your children.
- Your caregiver should know the medical needs of each of your children, if any. For instance, if one of your children has asthma, he or she may require regular medication.
- You will need to provide copies of important documents such as your children's birth certificates, your will, life insurance policies and more.
- Let your caregiver know about the children's daily routines and other matters such as discipline, religious considerations and more. For instance, some children are picky eaters or have food allergies, and your caregiver should know important information such as this.
- You need to provide detailed contact information to your caregiver, not only for questions and for updates, but also so you can continue to communicate with your children as much as possible during your deployment.
These are just some of the considerations you need to address in your family care plan. Your children may have special issues that require attention on a daily basis. Moreover, you will need to make sure that your caregiver agrees to take on this important responsibility. Part of making that choice is understanding what he or she will face when acting in your stead.
The U.S. Military requires that your family care plan contains certain information and meets with certain requirements. You will not only need to advise a California court of your plan, but also your commanding officer, who must approve the document. Considering the importance of this document, you may want to consult with a family law attorney with experience in military divorce as you create your plan.