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What to include in a military parenting plan

Agreeing to a parenting plan in a divorce settlement is a challenging task that takes time, negotiation and foresight. Even with all the what ifs and maybes that you address, new scenarios are bound to happen and the law is written to adapt and modify your agreement. For those in the military this flexibility is essential but you still want to build in some protection.

All jobs have unique elements, but a service member is more transient and subject to relocation than other fields of work. It's a different lifestyle, but that doesn't hinder your ability to be a parent. Most parenting plans have job flexibility in mind. After all, if you can't earn a living, you can't support your child.

Whether through deployment or a sudden move across country, a divorced military mom or dad faces unique challenges that threaten a standard visitation or custody arrangements.

Relocation

Divorce courts work at the state level and crossing state lines can create problems and new interpretations of a custody arrangement. Some states support move-aways only when it's deemed in the child's best interests, which may not be a perfect fit with your assigned relocation. There is a grave threat to your role as a custodian or visitation schedule.

When working on your parenting plan, it's essential to accommodate for military issues such as a relocation in advance. A framework that presents different scenarios gives a base for discussion if a modification need arises. It is more likely to secure rights than an unanticipated situation.

Deployment

As with relocation, it's best to plan for all military scenarios in advance, including a sudden deployment: how will custody be arranged while you're away, how will communication continue during that time and what happens upon your return?

Parenting plan modifications are a common legal matter but they are expensive and time consuming. If more scenarios are included at the start it eases custody for both parents and, as a result, is a smoother transition for your child. Custody arguments are often the most contentious part of a divorce and nobody wants to return to the scene for a second round if it's avoidable.

Few jobs are as honorable as being in the service, but it's a stressful life with a lot of unpredictability. Ensuring what stability you can in your custodial arrangement will ease matters for everyone involved: yourself, your ex-spouse and, most importantly, your child.

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