If you have children and you’re in the military, you could be required to have a “family care plan.” This is a document that designates who will care for your children while you are on temporary duty, engaged in extended training, deployed, involuntarily recalled or meeting other military obligations. Although each branch has slightly different requirements for the family care plan, there are some commonalities.
The basic idea is to choose a caregiver who will care for your kids while you’re unavailable. You must have both a short-term and a long-term family care plan if you:
- Are single (or divorced) and have a parenting order regarding your children
- Have a parenting order regarding children from a previous relationship
- Are the sole caregiver for any dependent
- Are single and pregnant
- Are married to another service member and have children 19 or younger
A short-term family care plan needs to designate a civilian caregiver who lives in the local area. For your long-term (31 days or longer) family care plan, however, you just need to designate a civilian caregiver. In either case, the designated caregiver must sign the plan.
Your family care plans should both include any necessary information that would allow the designated caregiver to care for your children. This means that it should contain specific information, such as:
- Your contact information
- Your ex’s contact information, if your ex has shared parenting responsibilities
- School contact information
- Information about medical care
- Information about religious instruction
- Any other helpful resources
You may already have family care plans in place. If you’re getting a divorce, you may need to update them with new information and a new caregiver, assuming your ex will no longer be your designated caregiver. You should also keep the information in the plans up to date and go over the plan at least once a year.