All military personnel with minor children are required to have a family care plan (FPC) which outlines both primary and secondary caregivers, as well as other provisions for the children's care, for periods when the parent is deployed. In your FPC, you’ll need to determine who will be responsible for your children for both short term and long term absences. In addition to naming these primary and secondary caregivers, you also need to outline financial details and guardianship of your children should something happen to you.
This article by Jennifer DeBrue was written exclusively for WomansDivorce.com and discusses other issues to consider when drafting a FPC.
Women that are single mothers in the military must have a Family Care Plan (FCP). This plan is designed to ensure that children of single mothers are cared for during times when the mother is unavailable. Think of a FCP as extended day care. In other words, the service member will appoint a willing adult, such as a family member or close friend, to care for her child/children full-time while she is working. This can be for a short period, such as a week in the field, or long term. The key to a military woman gaining custody of her child/children will be her game plan.
Let's look at Sgt. Scott, again. Sgt. Scott has filed a motion in a New Jersey court for custody of her two children. In order to show the court her care plan, she has established a short-term FCP with her neighbor, Adriana Smith. Adriana is a military spouse, and has agreed to care for Sgt. Scott's children in the event that she should have to be unavailable for up to 3 months. Adriana will ensure that the children attend school, seek medical care (if necessary) and receive the love, attention and affection her own children get. Further, Sgt. Scott has signed and filed a limited power of attorney that ensures that Adriana can perform any duties necessary, with regards to the children.
Additionally, Sgt. Scott has a cousin that lives within an hour of Fort Hood, in Dallas, Texas, that has agreed to be a long-term FCP provider. Therefore, if Sgt. Scott should have to be away from her children for more than 3 months, her cousin will take full responsibility for the children's care while she is away.
In addition to providing short and long term Family Care Plans to the courts, a single mother in the military will also have to provide these care plans to her command.
Each military branch has its own regulations regarding FCPs, so be sure to look up the regulations for your specific branch. It's also important to note that the Department of Defense has updated their policies for divorced parents. They must now receive the consent of the other parent for any FCP that leaves the child in the custody of a third party during deployment.
For other issues that can come up in a military divorce, check out the following articles: