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Divorce can be more complicated when there is a military service member involved. Matters of military divorce and child custody are no exception. A military parent could get deployed overseas or stationed somewhere far away from the child’s current primary residence. The possibility prompted the U.S. Armed Forces to implement a requirement that any divorced parent — or any couple with two service member parents — complete a Family Care Plan. This Family Care Plan is completed in addition to the typical parenting plan and timeshare arrangement determined as part of a New Mexico divorce decree.

Military service parents may also be concerned that their rights to custody of their child could be taken away while they are stationed overseas. Fortunately, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows all active-duty personnel to obtain a stay of the court or administrative proceedings of at least 90 days, allowing parents some time to prepare and respond to any requested changes in custody.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law understands how difficult it can be to be a service member parent or a former spouse of one. We can assist you with understanding the expectations of the New Mexico Family Court when it comes to determining a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interests. We can also help you assert your military father’s rights to child custody in the event of a contested divorce or a requested amendment to child custody status.

Explore these issues with our help, and form a legal strategy for seeking the best outcome, when you speak to us during a no-obligation case review. Call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.

New Mexico Divorce Requires a Parenting Plan, Timesharing Agreement

Regardless of the circumstances, child custody during New Mexico divorce is decided by an agreement between the two parents. If both parents cannot come to an agreement, then the Family Court will order that mediation must take place. The Family Court will only make its own decisions to form a decree when both parents continue to be unable to agree on the final arrangement.

Each divorce decree in New Mexico must address a number of factors when children are involved:

  • Custody — Called “legal custody” in some contexts, this refers to the ability of a parent to make major legal and life decisions in the child’s life and their status as a custodian.
  • Timesharing/Parenting Plan — Often referred to as “physical custody”, parents in a New Mexico divorce will have to form a plan for raising the child, including how the child will spend time split between the parents.
  • Child Support — The Family Court will calculate an appropriate amount of contribution from each parent that should be set aside to provide the child with a healthy, nurturing, comfortable lifestyle. The parent with the larger contribution sends regular payments to the other parent.

All decisions regarding the approval of a custody and parenting plan are weighed in the best interests of the child. The state will typically seek an ideal parenting plan that splits equal time between the parents to the extent reasonably possible.

Military Relocation and Child Custody

When a parent is a service member, the Family Court will require that the parents account for the possibility that the service member will be reassigned to a base farther away or that they might be deployed overseas. The parenting plan should reflect the current status of the service member, and it should also provide contingencies in the event that the current status changes.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law can help parents work through their concerns and obligations when attempting to form a workable parenting plan and timesharing agreement. The state goes above and beyond to attempt to show no preferences to one parent over the other, but it is possible that the court will consider granting temporary sole custody to a parent in the event of an extended overseas tour, or similar circumstances. We can help you plan ahead for such contingencies and seek out your preferred arrangement that allows you to still remain a big part of your child’s life, both legally and physically.

Service Members Required to Complete a Family Care Plan

If a service member has a child under the age of 19 and they share custody with a parent they are not currently married to, then they must prepare a Family Care Plan. A Family Care Plan describes how the service member intends to care for the child, including alternative plans in the event of deployment or sudden reassignment. 

Service members are required to inform the military of a situation where they might be required to draft a new Family Care Plan, such as if the parent is entering divorce proceedings. Once the divorce decree is issued, the service member has 60 days to submit a plan to a commanding officer if they are on active duty, or 90 days if they are on reserve.

Parts of a Family Care Plan

A Family Care Plan informs the military of how the parent intends to care for the child, including all relevant information on caregivers, the child’s other parent, and how the child will be supported.

A complete Family Care Plan contains the following information:

  • The child’s other parent: The military must be given the full legal name of the parent and their contact information. If the other parent is not named as the caregiver, that parent must provide their written consent as to the arrangement.
  • The child’s caregivers: If the caregiver is not the child’s other parent, then the service member must name someone at least 21 years of age. The service member must certify that the caregiver has been given all of the necessary information to care for the child.
  • Long-term and short-term contingency plans: The service member must provide plans for short-term absences, such as a brief military trip, as well as any long-term absences. These plans may require a second or third alternate caregiver.
  • Financial support information: The service member must demonstrate how they intend to financially support the child. This includes providing proof that the caregiver either has joint legal custody of the child or that they have powers of attorney allowing them to authorize certain financial decisions on the servicemember parent’s behalf.
  • Transportation information: The military requires proof that there are arrangements for transporting the child In the event that a Family Care Plan is activated. This may include details on how plane tickets will be bought and how the child will be brought to the airport.
  • A caregiver who would assume legal custody in the event of the service member’s death: If the child does not have another legal custodial parent, then the Family Care Plan should describe who would assume custody should the service member die.

It is important that there are no contradictions between the custody agreement/parenting plan agreed to in the divorce decree and the submitted Family Care Plan. An attorney can assist you with completing the details required of a Family Care Plan and ensuring that the details and legal aspects remain consistent.

Our Albuquerque Military Divorce Child Support Lawyers are Proud to Work With Service Members and Their Families

Serving your country and raising a child are both important duties. When you are entering a divorce where at least one parent is a service member, then you may be concerned about how the outcome will affect your ability or the other parent’s ability to serve while being there for their child.

New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you with understanding all aspects at play and what might be seen as the best interests of the child. Whether you are concerned about child custody as a military father or need to request a modification to the parenting agreement in light of service duties, we can be here for you.

Speak to us during a confidential consultation when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online today.

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