Child Custody Planning for Military Service Members

Parental custody ensures that a child receives the care they need. When parents decide to go their separate ways through a divorce, making decisions on child custody can be a complex process.


It can be even more complicated when one or both parents are serving in the military. Potential deployments overseas and other obligations can make it difficult for custodial parents to carry out their responsibilities.

Knowing how child custody can impact military parents can help you navigate unexpected challenges and put a plan in place to protect your child.

Custody Plans for Military Parents

 All parents should create a parenting plan that outlines their roles and responsibilities after a divorce. For parents serving in the military, a parenting plan is especially important when the possibility of deployment needs to be considered.


But it can be difficult for parents to plan for all the changes that can occur due to military service. In some cases, a parent may need to be stationed at a local military base, which can still allow for certain visitation rights.

If a military service person has to travel overseas for extended periods of time, a parenting plan can include terms that dictate how custody will be modified to protect the wellbeing of the child.

Family Care Plans for Military Service Members

There are specific rules in the military for addressing custody issues when one or both parents are service members.


A Family Care Plan must be established to give caregivers the guidance they need to look after a child. Military service members must have an official Family Care Plan in place and updated.

A Family Care Plan is used when a military service member has sole custody of a child under the age of 19 or shares custody with an ex-spouse.

Parents must sign a Family Care Plan if both parents are serving in the military while sharing custody of a minor.


It is the responsibility of service members to notify their military branch when they need a Family Care Plan within 60-90 days, depending on whether they are active or reserve members.

Establishing and Protecting Child Custody

Putting a plan in place to protect your child and give custody rights to military parents is an essential step in planning for your family’s future.


The plan you outline must consider short- and long-term deployment needs, and each military branch has its own requirements for Family Care Plans.


Your plan should include the names and contact information of the individual who will be in charge of caring for the child when one or both parents are deployed.

The appointed caregiver cannot be a military service member, and they must be at least 21 years old. The plan must also declare that the appointed caregiver understands and accepts the responsibility for caring for the child.


A secondary caregiver must also be named to ensure that the child is cared for if the primary caregiver is unable to meet the requirements.


Multiple caregivers can be named when establishing a long-term plan that considers a wide range of circumstances. Proof of power of attorney and information on the financial support of the child must also be included in your Family Care Plan.

Military branches require extensive details related to the care of the child. Working with an attorney who understands the military rules of child custody is the best way to protect you and your family’s well being.


Your attorney can get to know your unique circumstances and needs, and they can determine the rules of you or your spouse’s military branch.


The more you know about military rules and their impacts on child custody, the better you can protect your rights and secure the care of your child for the future.