Can a Soldier volunteer for separation due to not having a valid Family Care Plan? | – Leader Development for Army Professionals

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?

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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posted on 07/02/2012 under Q&A
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.”

Disclaimer: Though all content posted on is reviewed by our qualified subject matter experts, you should not make decisions based solely on the information contained in this post. Use information from multiple sources when making important professional decisions. This is not an official government website.

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  • pimples

    I requested to intiate a FCP speratio as f 19 April 2016, Now my BDE Legal is telling my COC that I need to request a chaper 6? I researched a chapter 6 that doesnt apply to me, need to be out ASAP, What can I do

    • Eck

      Sorry for the delayed reply. A separation for not having a Family Care Plan is a command directed chapter. It cannot be volunteered for. It is up to the command to initiate the chapter. See my original post on this thread for more details. Eck

  • Stacey

    So my husband and I are dual military. I was going to get out on family care plan but we are told that it could kick my husband out also. Is that true?

    • Eck

      Yes, the military can separate both of you. Being dual military, if one spouse does not have a valid family care plan then automatically the other spouse does not either. If you are both in the same unit the command can choose to separate which Soldier they desire or both. This comes from dual military spouses “playing the system” so one can get out early. Not stating that is your case, but it has happened in the past.

      I hope this helps.


  • Ashley

    So I only have 2 weeks left in Korea and my commander is trying to bar me from reenlistment because I was flagged for my apft and my height and weight last month. I was put on the ABCP last month and I had another weigh in last week. I lost 4 pounds and lost 3 percent of my body fat but I was still over by 3 percent. I showed a lot of improvement and I was wondering what I could do to stop him from barring me. I have started clearing and I only have 16 more days left. What can I do?

    • Eck

      You can appeal the bar once it is imposed, but I would not recommend that. The bar is general practice in many units for Soldiers on the ABCP. My recommendation would be to continue to lose the weight like you are and PCS to your new duty station. Ensure you DO NOT gain weight while on leave. If you show up to your new unit within the guidelines, it will show them you are serious about continuing your military career. Once you meet the height/weight standards, there is no justification to leave the bar in place, assuming you have no disciplinary issues or are a PT failure.

      I hope this helps.


  • xavier

    So are there any negative repercussions for getting chartered for family care plan. I’m being told since I am an nco my family care plan chapter is going to be looked at differently. I was told that I would have to appear in front of a separation board and possibly lose rank and not get a honorable discharge.

    • Eck

      A Chapter 5-8, Involuntary Separation Due to Parenthood is an involuntary chapter, that is initiated by the Command, not at the request of the Soldier. The vast majority of Soldiers who are separated under this chapter are given an honorable discharge, unless they some other negative counselings that would warrant a General Discharge.

      Paragraph 5-1, AR 635-200 governs the characterization of service for this type of separation. Para 5-1 states,
      “a. Unless the reason for separation requires a specific characterization, a Soldier being separated for the convenience
      of the Government will be awarded a character of service of honorable, under honorable conditions, or an uncharacterized
      description of service if in entry-level status.
      b. No Soldier will be awarded a character of service under honorable conditions under this chapter unless the
      Soldier is notified of the specific factors in his/her service record that warrant such a characterization, using the
      notification procedure. Such characterization is normally inappropriate for Soldiers separated under the provisions of
      paragraphs 5–4, 5–11, 5–12, 5–15, 5–16, or 5–17.”

      5-8 is not specifically listed, but paragraph b. requires notification of the reason for the less than honorable discharge.
      An administrative separation board is different than an administrative reduction board. You are entitled to have your case heard before a separation board if you have over six years of federal service. The six years includes delayed entry time, reserve active and inactive time, and active duty. You can waive the right to a separation board but do so only on the advice of legal counsel. Once you receive notification of the separation proceedings you are entitled to speak with Trial Defense Services. DO NOT WAIVE that right.

      An administrative reduction board can only be used for poor duty performance. It cannot be used for an action that is punishable by UCMJ. The only time I have seen a command not give a Soldier an honorable under a Chapter 5-8 is when the Soldier has other misconduct or negative counseling statements. OR, the command felt the Soldier was trying to work the system to get separated for not having a Family Care Plan. Only you know the answer to that.

      I hope this helps.


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