The Air Force said Wednesday that, when possible, it will station airmen and space professionals with court-ordered child custody decrees near their children.

Service members also can ask for their assignments to be deferred if the move would take them away from their kids, the Air Force said. Child custody was previously not considered in assignments.

“We recognize family dynamics don’t always look the same, and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to managing people’s careers and assignments,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, the Air Force personnel chief. “We ask our people to move frequently, and we know that can cause additional stress and sacrifices for their families. This change gives us the flexibility needed to better take care of them.”

Service members will be able to apply for the assignment or deferment near their kids through myPers, beginning Aug. 17.

The change applies to parents of both biological children and adopted children. Service members must be named as a parent, and have a court-ordered child custody agreement to apply for a deferment or an assignment near their kids, the Air Force said.

However, the change does not give airmen complete power to veto an assignment. The Air Force said assignment matches will be made when possible, and must meet the best needs of the Air Force. But the Air Force said it will try to accommodate airmen’s child custody situations, unless it has no other option for a particular assignment.

“This is one we’ve been working for a while, and I’m glad we could get it across the finish line,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright said in the release. “This Air Force life is a family business. As such, we owe it to our teammates to make sure they have every opportunity to keep their family together whenever possible.”

Airmen will still be required to fill manning requirements, do the jobs for which they were trained, and meet all requirements to be eligible for a permanent change-of-station move without waivers, the Air Force said.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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