Parenting plans can be great, especially if they are thorough. They deal with issues such as visitation, summertime schedules and who pays for what.
However, when one of the parents is in the military and is subject to deployment (or is currently on deployment), drawing up a plan can be tricky. Here are a few tips.
First things first
Like with all parenting plans, it is important to not get so focused on details or “what ifs” that you forget about the basics. So, remember to include provisions for issues such as:
- How the co-parents communicate with each other
- Medical coverage costs and who pays
- Visitation schedules (or joint custody schedules)
- Child care or day care arrangements
Only with a foundation in place are you ready to consider other circumstances, and no matter what type of parenting plan you are looking at, it is important to keep in mind the children’s ages and any special needs.
Your parenting plan should have a specific section for what happens in a deployment. Some considerations to include might be giving priority to the deployed parent’s vacation time and breaks over what is previously scheduled, using a temporary parenting plan and how to return to the long-term plan when deployment ends. For instance, if the deployed parent has sole custody, how will that transition back occur?
The picture does get more complicated if both parents could be deployed. Parenting plans should cover scenarios such as when both are stateside, both are on deployment, Parent A is on deployment (but B is not), and B is on deployment (and A is not). Both parents should also be aware that while one parent is on deployment, the other could possibly be able to change custody plans in court. Military members have some legal protections against that happening, but it does occur. A well-written plan can help prevent nasty surprises for deployed parents.
There are many considerations that go into military parenting plans. It can be a good idea to seek out the help of an attorney if a military divorce and/or parenting plan is possible.