By Marie Antoinette Joiner/XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg LAOOctober 1, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Many Soldiers are unaware that AR 600-20, Chapter 5-5 Family Care Plans was updated almost a year ago (as of November 2009) requiring an additional document (DA Form 7666) in certain cases in order for the plan to be complete.
Chapter 5-5 a(3)(f) now requires that DA Form 7666 (Parental Consent) be completed by all parties with a legal interest in the custody of the minor child whenever the child is not left in the care of the other biological parent or another person with a legal interest in the custody of the child.
This change was made because many Soldiers have not notified the other biological parent that the child will remain with a third party for deployment and have not confronted issues dealing with custody prior to deployment.
As a result, the other biological parent may show up and take physical custody of the child, causing distress to the deployed Soldier who now possibly needs to take emergency leave to work out custody matters.
Remember, the Family Care Plan is not a legal document that can change court-mandated custodial arrangements or interfere with a natural parent's right to custody of a child.
The laws in most states view custody of children as equal between the mother and father until proven otherwise. (Many factors contribute to this and each issue should be addressed by an attorney licensed in the jurisdiction where the child lives.)
In order to avoid this potential Family law minefield before deployment, the regulation now requires that these issues be addressed before deployment by adding the requirement of DA Form 7666. DA Form 7666 requires that both mother and father (or any other party with a legal interest in the custody of the child) consent by signing and notarizing the document acknowledging who will care for the child in case of deployment, temporary duty, or extended field time.
The regulation acknowledges that sometimes it just may not be possible to gain the permission of the other biological parent and makes provisions for these circumstances.
If there are questions regarding consent or the lack thereof by a party, then the commander must seek legal guidance from their trial counsel or other servicing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. The commander should refer the Soldier to one of the legal assistance offices. Legal assistance offices cannot provide advice to commanders.
For Soldiers who have questions about the new provisions of the Family Care Plan regulation, please call your servicing legal assistance office. The XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1st Sustainment Command all have legal assistance offices.
The XVIII Airborne Corps office is located in Building 2-1133 at the corner of Macomb and Armistead streets. The office is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and on Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is closed every day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our services are provided free-of-charge to eligible servicemembers and their dependents.
For more information about the services provided by the XVIII Airborne Corps LAO, please visit the website located at www.bragg.army.mil/SJA/LAO.htm.