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Can a Soldier volunteer for separation due to not having a valid Family Care Plan?

Can I receive a voluntary chapter for failure to obtain a family care plan?

The comprehensive guide to the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP)

Separation due to the responsibilities of parenthood is covered under paragraph 5-8, AR 635-200, “Involuntary Separation Due to Parenthood.” IAW this paragraph, Soldiers will be considered for involuntary separation when the obligations of parenthood interfere with fulfillment of military responsibilities.

Specific reasons for separation under this paragraph include, but are not limited to:

  1. Inability to perform prescribed duties satisfactorily.
  2. Repeated absenteeism.
  3. Repeated tardiness.
  4. Inability to participate in field training exercises or perform special duties such as CQ and staff duty noncommissioned officer (NCO).
  5. Non-availability for worldwide assignment or deployment according to the needs of the Army.

Separation is not mandatory. If the command determines that they can work with the Soldier’s situation, then the command may decide not to separate. I have also seen units that decide if a Soldier is within 12 months of their ETS date, they will not separate the Soldier early, but work with that Soldier to complete their contract. This normally occurs when the unit is not on a rotation schedule for say NTC or JRTC before the Soldier’s ETS.

Separation for parenthood is one of the chapters that Soldiers in the past have used to “work the system” to get out of their military contract. Because of this, units are more cautious when initiating this chapter. In the legal offices that I have worked in, we make it a requirement for the unit 1SG or Commander to verify the conditions that the Soldier stated in his Family Care Counseling Packet.  For example, if the Soldier states that their spouse left them with the children and the Soldier’s parents or siblings are unable/unwilling to care for the children if the Soldier gets deployed, the 1SG or Commander must submit a signed statement that they verified the information by personally contacting the Soldier’s relatives.

Normally though, if the Soldier can not come up with a valid Family Care Plan within 30 days of being formally counseled that a plan is required, the unit will initiate and separate the Soldier. Separation under this chapter will be characterized as honorable and the Soldier may be entitled to separation pay dependent upon their length of service.

See paragraph 5-5, AR 600-20 for the requirements pertaining to a valid Family Care Plan.

Refer to paragraph 5-8, AR 635-200 for the requirements pertaining to Involuntary Separation Due to Parenthood.

I hope this helps.



Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be
interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily
represent the views of DoD or its Components.

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Staff Sergeant(R) Douglas “Eck” Eckstein is a former Paralegal NCO with over eleven years of service in the Army. He has served overseas tours in Korea and Iraq. Eck served on active duty for seven years working in the personnel administration field then, after a break in service, returned to active duty in 2009 when he earned the Military Occupational Specialty, 27D (paralegal). He has worked in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate from Division level down to unit level. He has expertise in all aspects of military law, with extensive emphasis in Administrative Law and Soldiers Rights. “I am not an attorney and any views presented are my own and are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Furthermore, my views do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.”

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  • Wyatt


    My wife is about to start college and will not have time all the time to watch my son there for having to bring him to daycare he is 3 months old and I’m currently on rotation in germany would sending a 3 month old to a daycare be considered good evidence for separation due to responsibilities due to parenthood also me not being home with him considered by definition neglect which is stated as needed in the regulation. Or is a possibility my unit would rather send me back to the states than discharge me?

  • noemi mendez


    Due to COVID I have not been able to have any family over to watch my child. I do not have anyone I can trust watch her during duty days. My husband and I are dual military but different branches.
    I have been wanting to take my daughter out of the CDC for concerns regarding the virus. Since a lot of people have been getting sick.
    My unit has informed me that Although they are processing my family care plan chapter, I cannot remove my child from the cdc.
    Do I have the right? Since I am already receiving the chapter?

  • Josh


    So my wife and I are both officers in the Army (Active Duty) but have yet to complete our prescribed commitment time. Our pregnancy is unplanned and we can’t seem to come up with a valid family care plan. Our families are both unfit and unwilling to take care of the child and all other options have been exhausted. Is it possible for my wife to be separated as we are both unable to maintain a family care plan? We have been looking into different regs and some regs seem to nagged what others say.

  • Leanda


    I have 2 children to care for and unable to attend drill due to no care plan or having someone to watch then. I have had to bring them to drill many times. My commander has submitted the separation packet. How long could this take and what are the next steps if it is denied?

    • Mark Gerecht


      Processing time is depends on how fast your unit and the HQ’s above you processes the packet. There is no set time limit. From experience I would say between 30-60 days would not be unreasonable.

      Hope this helps!
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  • Michael carson


    So my wife has SVT, and P.O.T.S, It is a heart condition to where she has “attacks” everyday, when an episode happens she can’t breath, she can’t move, she can’t even speak, her heart rate goes to 254 bpm to where I’ve taken her to the emergency room several time, I was supposed to get a family care plan two months ago we were unable to, but they never started the separation, they literally refuse to start it and my wife needs to move back home bc of the low altitude, that is the reason all this is happening because of the high altitude here I can’t preform duties such as SD or CQ or fields and I don’t plan on extending or re-enlisting.

  • MJ


    Is a family care plan supposed to cover instances where a child is sick or other such last minute things that prevent him from going to daycare?

    • Mark Gerecht


      If your chain of command wants to play by the letter of the law yes. You can request to take leave, work from home (if your unit allows that option), and/or have someone watch your child such as a daycare provider. Other than these options the only other option is the family care plan.

  • Jonesha


    Im a single parent and have. A 4 year old daughter. The father is barely in the child life and he don’t even have a phone. My mother is the only one on the child care plan and she isn’t able to watch her on my drill weekends. So I’m no longer able to make it to drill sometimes. Will I be able to qualify for involuntary?

    • Eck


      Hi Jonesha,

      This is something you will need to discuss with your drill unit. I am not sure how it works with the active reserves or state national guard. I would suggest you speak with your Platoon Sergeant and/or First Sergeant and let them know your situation. Sorry I could not be of more help, but active reserves and national guard regulations are entirely different than active duty cases.


  • Tori


    We have 4 children…3 are 4 years and younger. I have a work-from-home job and tons of student loan debt. If I put our children in daycare, it would defeat the point of working. My mom had to have surgery and will be having another in 4-6 months. We have no other family to help with the kids. If he was separated, due to the family care plan, would we be entitled to any medical benefits? He’s been in for 10 years.

    • Eck


      A family care plan is only required for single military parents or married couples when both are in the military. If I understand your situation correctly, your husband is active duty and you are his dependant. That being the case, your husband is not required to have a family care plan as you are there to care for the children. The family care plan is intended to identify who will take care of the service member’s minor dependants in the event the service member is deployed. In your situation, as his non-military spouse, he does not require a family care plan.


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