Members of the military usually count on a civilian spouse or other family member to care for their children if they face a deployment. If you’re married to a civilian but have decided that the union isn’t working, you have several things to think about. One of these is setting up a new family care plan.

A common misconception is that because you’re active duty that you can’t have custody of your children. It will take more planning that what many parents have to handle, but it is possible to have full, shared or joint custody of your children while you serve your country.

Because of your military commitments, you’ll need to establish a family care plan and have it on file with your commanding officer. This plan outlines what will happen with the children if you have a long-term or short-term deployment.

You will establish a special power of attorney that assigns a guardian for your child. Some plans require two guardians. You need one who lives close to your duty station, so they can get the kids in an emergency. If that person isn’t who will care for the children when you go on a long-term deployment, you need to name the long-term guardian, too.

More than likely, your ex will be the long-term guardian if the kids are their children. In this case, you should still have the short-term guardian unless your ex lives close to where you’re serving.

Remember, you also have to consider the child custody matters in these cases. Working closely with someone familiar with service member divorces can help ensure your interests are protected throughout the process.