Joining The Military As A Single Mom

Joining The Military As A Single Mom

Nearly 30,000 solo moms are serving in the military whose lives are not so easy when deployed as they have to stay away from home and give up on their parental custody to serve the country. The government prohibits single mothers from enlisting in all the branches of armed forces apart from the Army National Guard, which keeps enlisting many single mothers. Over the past decades, women have tried to get around the ban on giving up the parental custody of their minors to become service members. Each branch of the military has its specific recruitment criteria. In the Navy, there is a six-month waiting period after custody transfer. Even the custody transfer should be made permanent according to a court order.

The Marine Corps requires single parents to give up the custody of their children and wait for an additional year or more after becoming eligible for enlistment. If you are determined to list in the military, then you need to prepare yourself as once you transfer the parental custody, there is no going back to the first job; you need to hand over the custody to your child’s other parent, grandparents or close relatives who can become full legal guardians of your child. If you are on active duty, you should demonstrate that someone else cares for your child’s needs. It may sound harsh; however, there isn’t any single-parent policy in the military as the military of the United States relies that active members should be on duty whenever and wherever required. This situation is not easy for single parents who have to take care of their children single-handedly. The military cannot excuse a service member who failed to deploy due to problems with their kids. This is why they need legal assurance that the commitment of single mothers is to serve the country and that the top priority should be the military. The custody agreement should be in place before enlisting.

Can You Join The Military As A Single Mom?

Joining the military as a single mother in the United States can be a life-changing option with many obstacles and restrictions. Many recruits wonder if they can serve in the military as single parents. The Secretary of Defense often grants waivers to single moms in rare circumstances. Single mothers cannot be enlisted if they have the custody of dependents under 18 years of age as per the rules of the Department of Defense in the United States. As a single mom, you can become a part of the military branches if you are ready to sign over the custody of your kids to a trustable relative or a qualified family member.

Can Single Moms Join The Military?

The Department of Defense does not permit solo parents to join the Airforce, the Navy, and other military reserves as they have the parental custody of minors under 18. New potential recruits have to sign the custody of their kids to a trusted adult or co-parent and even agree on not indenting to begin the custody after enlistment. They must sign documents mentioned in the contract that any violation of the rules and guidelines will be considered fraudulent, and service members will undergo separation from the military. In the Reserve Components or Army National Guard, as long as single mothers can ensure Family Care Plan arrangements, a waiver can be possible. The Department of Defense has designed specific instructions for Family Care Plans, so eligibility requirements are the same for every military branch.

Joining Army As A Single Mother

Joining the military as a single mom is challenging for recruits. However, those who are already in service may get parental leave. Signing up for the United States Army requires you not to have parental custody of dependence below 18. You only have to give up your parental custody to your co-parent or trusted adult, like close relatives and grandparents, if you want to serve in the army. Even though waivers are not guaranteed, single moms having an incredible ASVAB score and interest in entering a high-demand profession will find it easier than others.

Joining Air Force As A Single Mother

The rules and regulations in the Air Force are similar to the Army and require single parents to give up the custody of their minors for a lot of reasons which have nothing to do with wanting to enlist in the military. The Air Force does not encourage potential recruits to give up the custody of their children to serve the Air Force. Single military mom who has given up on their parental custody to become service member in the Air Force to regain their parental custody later after the basic training will face disqualification from Air Force services. As a single mother, if you still want to join the Airforce, then you have to sign a certification or document at the time of your enlistment which states that you have no intention to regain the custody of your children in the later period. Besides, it is also possible to get waivers if you have a robust FCP in place. Therefore single moms need to talk with their recruiter and ask for waivers.

Joining the Navy As A Single Mother

Single mothers are eligible to serve in the Navy; however, there are many risks related to military service. The Navy requires a waiver for single-parent applicants. Besides, a Family Care Plan is also a must requirement. An FCP is a valuable tool for any military service member, irrespective of whether they are single or not, to make sure that their minors are cared for while they are deployed in the military. Many single moms use search engines and use the term” I’m a single mom and want to join the military” to understand whether they are eligible. You can visit the website of the Department of Defense to learn more details.

Joining The Marine Corps As a Single Mother

The Marine Corps does not permit recruits who are single parents. Existing recruits who are married and have kids will require a waiver to enlist. Marines also take it further by requiring married service members with multiple dependents to join Marine Reserves instead of being on active duty. If you are a single mother and decide to give up custody, you can join the marine. However, it would help if you could wait an entire year before enlisting in the Marines under the waiver.

Joining Coast Guard As Single Mother

The Coast Guard addresses the challenges of balancing between family and military service. Although the Coast Guard does not fall under the Department of Defense, it still has specific rules and regulations about single parents who want to sign a service commitment in the Coast Guard. Until recently, the Coast Guard did not permit single parents having minors to sign up for active duty. However, a new policy was announced in November 2022, which states that solo parents are eligible to join the Coast Guard but only with a dependent care plan and an approved waiver.

Child Custody When Single Mothers Are In The Military

The good news is that there is help for single military moms, as laws are in place to protect the child custody rights of military parents. The state and federal governments have taken steps so that military parents are not penalized for serving their country when it comes to ensuring child custody. The military rules in the USA require divorced and single parents to have proper Family Care Plans in place before they travel or get deployment.  Being in the military should not hurt your capability to have custody of your child; however, you must take specific steps to prepare for a possible military deployment.  The military document outlining children’s custody and visitation rights is a parenting plan.

When single mothers cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court evaluates what will be in the best interest of the dependents and incorporates a court-drafted parenting plan. If you are a single parent in the military, you need to have this court-ordered parenting plan in place. However, this parenting plan often does not address what would happen when they get deployed. This is the reason why single military parents should have a military Family Care Plan in place that will strictly adhere to military regulations. Military Family Care Plan will never replace the court-ordered parenting plan; instead, it complements it. The Military Family Care Plan will appoint a primary caregiver to care for your children and look after them 24/7 once you get deployed. Solo moms who have custody of their children and wish to join the military are often concerned about whether the military deployment will affect their custody rights. Generally, the fact that you are in the military cannot be used as a reason to deny custody. The deployment rules can be complex for service members as they may be deployed overseas and must stay away from their homes for more than six months. The Family Care Plan has been designed to make sure the daily lives of children run smoothly when single parents are away for months. Single mothers with a good relationship with their co-parents can give parental custody to them or the children’s grandparents.


Single parents with minors often struggle while joining the military. The military is a rewarding and lucrative career pathway for many single mothers. The military, however, does not allow solo parents to join the military due to potential hardship for children and service members. If you have someone else who can take over the custody of your children and care for them 24/ 7, then you can be a part of the military. Some military branches often frown on this effort of single mothers. Many of them use the tactics to regain their children’s custody after the training period and get separated from serving in the military permanently.

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