In all divorce cases in Tennessee involving children, a Permanent Parenting Plan Order (PPP) must be entered by the court. In most cases, the parenting plan is agreed to by the parents. If the parents cannot agree to all or part of the parenting plan, the court will be required to make the decision. Regardless of how the parenting plan is created, when one of the parents is a service member, it is important to include language that takes that parents military service into account.
One way to do this is by adding the following provisions under section I(J) of the Permanent Parenting Plan Order:
Both parents understand the nature of military duty and agree to work together to ensure the [service member] is able to spend as much time as possible with the child/children within the scope of the PPP and consistent with the [service member’s] service obligations
Both parents agree that if the [service member] has to cancel parenting time due to military duties that they will cooperate with each other to reschedule that time as soon as possible. The [service member] shall give the other parent as much advance notice about cancellation and rescheduling as possible and agrees to accommodate the child's schedule. The [non-service member parent] will cooperate within reason and will not unreasonably deny rescheduled time
Both parents also agree that, if the [service member] is temporarily deployed to duty elsewhere, that the [non-service member parent] will do everything reasonably possible to encourage communication with the [service member], including using FaceTime, Skype or any similar technology for live conversations at least once a week, telephone calls if available from the [service member’s] location, emails, and photographs to foster the parent-child relationship
Both parents agree that, when the [service member] returns from deployment or comes home on leave, the [non-service member parent] will cooperate with the returning parent to schedule additional/make-up parenting time, subject to the [service member’s] duty and leave schedule and wishes, and taking into account the age(s) of the children and any necessary readjustment time for both the returning parent and the child(ren)
By including these provisions in the Permanent Parenting Plan Order, the service member’s time with the child is maximized and the parent/child relationship fostered. The non-service member parent should understand that a good relationship with both parents is beneficial to the child and be willing to accept these provisions.