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Being in the military doesn't mean you can't co-parent

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Your status as a member of the Armed Forces means that a divorce has some added complexities with which most civilians don't have to deal. Even so, you are a parent just like anyone else. However, you may struggle with finding a way to remain in your children's lives and to meet your obligations to your country.

Despite the divorce, your children will always connect you and the other parent. You and the other parent can create a parenting plan that allows each of you as much time with the children as possible. In your case, however, there may need to be added provisions, since you face the possibility of deployment at any time.

There's a lot to consider and learn

Working as a team to co-parent your children could take some time. You may try different arrangements to see what works best for your family. It may be a good idea to try out some of your options before putting anything in writing. Even though you may be eager to get on with your life, it may be prudent to take some time to test the waters, so to speak.

Determining who will be responsible for what

When figuring out who will assume what duties post-divorce, it may be helpful to sit down with your soon-to-be former spouse and determine what kind of schedule each of you has, along with the schedules of the children. If you have spent a good deal of your service deployed or otherwise spending long hours away from the family, you may not be as aware of the day-to-day requirements of the children.

This does not mean that you cannot get up to speed and take a larger part in their daily lives. However, it does mean that you need to be realistic about what you can and cannot do for them. Your instinct may be to take as much time with them as you can, but many other couples have discovered the hard way that their plans don't actually work.

What should you be looking at?

When negotiating a parenting plan and figuring out how it will work, it may help to consider the following:

  • Who prepares the meals for the children?
  • Who takes the children to medical and dental appointments?
  • Will you attend school functions and events together?
  • Who will get the children to school on a particular day?
  • Will each of you help with homework and projects?
  • Will you both participate in the extracurricular and recreational activities that the children do?
  • Who will handle purchasing school supplies and clothes?

These are just some of the questions that the two of you will need to answer. You may have other questions to answer depending on your family situation and your work commitments.

The final agreement

Your service may have played a factor in the end of your marriage, so you may be concerned that the other parent will hold that against you in the divorce. Showing the willingness to work together for the good of the children may remind him or her that you are a good and loving parent who deserves substantial time with your children.

Accomplishing this may allow each of you to set aside any feelings for each other or the demise of your relationship in order to figure out how to best continue being involved and supportive parents after the divorce. You may need help to ensure that your final agreement is properly drafted and contains all of your agreements, along with any extra provisions pertaining to your military service.

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