Effective 14 October 2008, a married member of the armed forces on active duty whose wife gives birth to a child shall receive 10 days of leave to be used in connection with the birth of the child.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is paternity leave restricted to married servicemembers only?
The law that serves as the basis of this leave policy (MILPERSMAN 1050-430), Title 10 of the US Code, Section 701 (10 U.S.C 701), specifically states the "married member" whose "wife gives birth to a child..." These same terms are used in DoD Instruction 1327.06. These are References (a) and (b) of MILPERSMAN 1050-430.
The ultimate authority on this issue is the law, so Commanding Officers do not have discretion to authorize paternity leave to unmarried fathers. A Commanding Officer can permit the Sailor to take regular leave if he is not married to the mother, and is encouraged to do so.
2. What if the servicemember is engaged to be married at the time the child is born?
A servicemember is not authorized paternity leave unless he is married to the mother when she delivers the child. The Navy received legal permission to award non-chargeable paternity leave to a service member "who's wife delivers a baby" and cannot authorize the leave for servicemembers who marry the mother following the birth of the child.
3. What if the servicemember is deployed at the time the child is born?
The father can take the leave anytime within 365 days of the child's birth. The intention is to provide new fathers time to bond with their child, support the mother, and assist with family logistics immediately following the birth of the child. However, the 365 day window is built in to ensure that a Sailor who is deployed when his wife delivers is still afforded the opportunity to dedicate time to his child and family upon returning from deployment. If a servicemember is permitted to take the leave during the deployment, the servicemember holds all financial responsibility for flights taken during paternity leave.
4. What about servicemembers who adopt? Are they afforded similar parental benefits?
Adoptive parents also require time for bonding and family arrangements. Adoptive parents currently receive 21 days of administrative leave (as approved by the Defense National Authorization Act of 2006). The reference for this leave is the Navy Guidelines Concerning Pregnancy and Parenthood (OPNAVINST 6000.1C) and the adoptive leave allowance can be found on page 2-4, under "Servicemembers Adopting an Infant Child."