Aug 22, 2023
This report characterizes legal, policy, practice, and cost implications of U.S. Department of Defense options to comply with new congressional requirements to allow service academy cadets and midshipmen who become parents to retain their parental rights. The authors also recommend changes to military policies and practices that could help these student-parents better care for their children, succeed in school, and become exemplary officers.
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) policy prohibits cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. military service academies (MSAs) from having dependents while enrolled. Cadets or midshipmen who have become parents while enrolled have been required to sever their legal obligation to support the child, resign from the academy, or face disenrollment. The fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires that the Secretary of Defense change this policy so that cadets and midshipmen who become parents while attending an MSA can preserve their parental rights, "consistent with the individual and academic responsibilities of such cadet or midshipman."
In this report, the authors examine the legal, policy, practice, and cost implications of changing MSA rules to comply with the FY 2022 NDAA. The authors found that changing DoD policy to allow cadets and midshipmen to preserve their parental rights has implications for policies on a host of issues, including the provision of benefits and supporting programs and services — such as housing, child care, and health care — to assist student-parents. The authors also found that, regardless of which policy options DoD chooses, existing laws can temporarily protect cadets and midshipmen from legal action related to their children, and state laws will strongly uphold parental rights. The authors recommend changes to military policies and practices that could help these student-parents better care for their children, succeed in school, and become exemplary officers.
Family Law Context of Parental Rights and Responsibilities
Military Policy Landscape
Recommendations for Military Policy Alignment, Implementation, and Assessment
Military Policy Review Search Approach
Additional Cost Results