How does paternity leave work in the Army?

The Army offers up to 21 days of non-chargeable paternity leave for soldiers after the birth of a child. This allows new fathers in the Army to take time off to bond with and care for their newborn child and support the child’s mother.

What is paternity leave in the Army?

Paternity leave in the Army is an authorized absence for male soldiers to take time off from their duties when their spouse or partner gives birth to a child. It allows new fathers to assist with caring for the newborn child and supporting the child’s mother during a critical bonding period.

Army paternity leave is considered non-chargeable leave. This means the time off does not count against a soldier’s accrued leave days. Soldiers maintain their full leave balance while taking paternity leave.

Who qualifies for paternity leave?

Active duty Army soldiers who are the newly born child’s biological father qualify for up to 21 days of paternity leave following the birth of their child. The child can be born to either a soldier’s civilian spouse or to another active duty soldier.

In order to qualify, the soldier must be listed as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate. Adoptive parents and parents using a surrogate also qualify for paternity leave.

How much paternity leave do you get?

New fathers in the Army are entitled to up to 21 days of paternity leave per birth event. This means for a single birth, an eligible soldier can take up to 21 consecutive days of non-chargeable leave.

For multiple births such as twins, the soldier qualifies for 21 days of leave for each child born. So for twins, the soldier could take up to 42 days of paternity leave.

When can you take paternity leave?

Army policy allows soldiers to take their 21 days of paternity leave anytime within the first year after the child’s birth. Leave does not need to be taken immediately following the birth.

However, soldiers must coordinate with their commanders and take into consideration mission requirements when scheduling their paternity leave. The leave generally must be taken all at once, not split up into multiple segments.

How do you request paternity leave?

Soldiers should notify their chain of command as early as possible when planning to take paternity leave. The request is submitted through standard leave procedures, but should indicate the leave is for “paternity purposes.”

Proper documentation such as a birth certificate will be required to confirm the soldier’s paternity of the child. Foreign birth certificates must be translated into English.

Can paternity leave be combined with other leave?

Yes, Army soldiers can combine paternity leave with their ordinary accrued leave and with convalescent leave earned by the child’s mother if she is also an active duty soldier. However, all leave taken at one time may not exceed 60 continuous days.

Commanders have discretion to grant extensions beyond 60 days, including combining paternity leave with unpaid leave. Total leave extending beyond 90 days requires Army Human Resources Command approval.

Can the mother and father take paternity leave at the same time?

Yes, if both parents are active duty Army soldiers, they can take their respective maternity and paternity leaves together. However, their combined leaves cannot exceed 60 continuous days without approval from the commander and Army HR Command.

Does paternity leave affect your Army career?

No, paternity leave has no negative impact on a soldier’s career. Since it is non-chargeable leave, it does not reduce accrued leave days. The time off also does not count against service commitment obligations.

Soldiers on paternity leave remain eligible in all respects for promotion, training, and career development opportunities. They return to their positions with all accrued time counting toward seniority, promotions, and career status.

Can you be recalled from paternity leave?

Soldiers on paternity leave can be recalled to duty under certain emergency circumstances at the discretion of their commander. Commanders should limit recalls and avoid recalling the soldier back for minor issues.

Any paternity leave days lost due to recall are normally recredited to allow the soldier to take his full 21 days off at a later time within the first year.


The Army provides generous paternity leave benefits to give new fathers time to be present and care for their newborn children. Eligible soldiers can take up to 21 days of non-chargeable leave with full pay and benefits within the first year after their child’s birth.

Paternity leave does not negatively impact careers. In fact, it contributes to stronger Army families and improved readiness when soldiers have time to properly support their new children and spouses. By offering paternity leave, the Army is helping modern military families balance service with family life.

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