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Volunteer Attorney Helps Marine and Wife Obtain Custody Over Niece

September 19, 2017

A Marine and his wife found their four-year-old niece in a devastating situation. The child’s mother and father were both in jail. Although both incarcerated parents wanted their child to reside with the Marine and his wife, another relative took possession of the child and planned to fight for custody. This relative had a long criminal history, was violent, and was not fit to care for the child. For the child’s safety, the Marine and his wife removed the child from the relative. Soon thereafter, they realized that they needed to take quick legal actions and, because they were stationed in another state, needed help from a local attorney.

The Marine and his wife visited a military legal assistance attorney who referred their case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which promptly secured an experienced volunteer family law attorney. Through the attorney’s dedicated pro bono legal representation, the Marine and his wife received a positive outcome: They obtained a temporary custody order over their niece. The military family—along with the incarcerated parents—could rest assured that the young child would have a safe and stable home during a difficult time, along with services provided by the military to help with the child’s mental health issues.

 

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Sailor Cleared of Parents’ Debt with Volunteer Attorney Help

August 26, 2017

A young Navy servicemember resided with his parents in their apartment, both while a minor and after he reached the age of adulthood. His parents fell behind on rent payments. The servicemember was not a party on his parents’ lease, as he was only listed as an occupant. However, when the sailor was denied a request for automobile funding, he learned that he was being held accountable for his parents’ unpaid rent and damages on the apartment and the landlord and collection agency were holding him responsible for this debt. The sailor learned that the longer the improper claim appeared on his credit report, the more difficult it would be for him to obtain credit and may also impact his security clearance.

After efforts by the sailor’s military legal assistance office to resolve the dispute with the debt collection agency were unsuccessful, the servicemember was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project which was able to quickly place the servicemember with an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction. After numerous attempts to resolve the matter, the sailor’s attorney represented him in a lawsuit against the debt collector and, within several months of filing, negotiated a settlement agreement between the parties out of court. The sailor’s pro bono attorney felt this representation had been one of the most rewarding of his career, and more importantly, the servicemember can now return to his military duties without fear of further debt collection on this claim and with his security clearance intact.

Sailor Obtains Guardianship Over Step-Child with Pro Bono Legal Help

July 31, 2017

A Navy servicemember had guardianship over his step-child from an order issued in another state. After the child’s mother and the servicemember got divorced, they reached a guardianship agreement for visitation because the servicemember has been the child’s acting father figure. However, unfortunately, the mother was recently killed in a car accident and the biological father previously lost all paternity rights so, in order for the child to be placed on the sailor’s health insurance and become a dependent of the sailor in the event of the servicemember’s change of duty station, the sailor wished to obtain permanent child custody.

The sailor had been attending court hearings out of state in this matter but was financially unable to continue travelling and the servicemember’s military legal assistance office determined that this service was beyond the scope of what it could supply. Fortunately, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to quickly refer the servicemember to a team of pro bono attorneys who analyzed the jurisdictional issues involved, completed the necessary paperwork and ultimately secured a guardianship order for both the sailor and his wife—permanently reuniting the servicemember with his step-child and providing the family with greater stability.

Sailor Saves Mother’s Home with Volunteer Legal Assistance

June 30, 2017

A Navy servicemember’s mother had recently passed away while the sailor was deployed. Her mother had a will, and the servicemember was her mother’s only child. The sailor and her husband had been residing in the mother’s home to take care of her and the servicemember was particularly concerned about how to handle her mother’s reverse mortgage on her home that ultimately resulted in foreclosure proceedings. The sailor needed legal assistance to probate her mother’s estate, get the home in the servicemember’s name, secure a mortgage to pay off the home and fight the foreclosure proceedings. Within a few days, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to refer the sailor to an experienced pro bono attorney in her jurisdiction to assist her with probate proceedings and resolve the foreclosure matter.  With the able assistance of the servicemember’s pro bono attorney, the sailor and her family are now living in the house her mother bequeathed to her.

Sailor Divorces Abusive Husband with Pro Bono Legal Help

June 1, 2017

A Navy servicemember was a victim of domestic violence by her husband, who had been administratively discharged from the Navy for spousal physical abuse toward her. The sailor obtained an order of protection against him and filed for divorce without an attorney. Her husband responded by objecting to the divorce and sought maintenance from her. As a result, a pretrial conference was scheduled and the servicemember required legal assistance to represent her in the divorce proceedings.

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the sailor to an experienced family law attorney in her jurisdiction who was able to get the case set on an expedited track and draft a preliminary marital settlement agreement. Within a few months, the servicemember was ultimately able to obtain a default judgment against her husband for dissolution of marriage. With the assistance of her volunteer attorney, the sailor can now move forward with her life and military duties without obligation to or fear of her former spouse.

Soldier Obtains Guardianship Over Minor Sister-in-Law with Pro Bono Legal Help

April 28, 2017

An Army servicemember’s minor sister-in-law, a U.S. citizen who was residing with the soldier and his wife but whose undocumented parents were unable to care for her, required guardianship in order to continue residing with the soldier on the military base and obtain military healthcare coverage. The minor and her parents consented to the guardianship, and the soldier had the means and motivation to continue raising the minor, so the servicemember was seeking pro bono help to obtain the court-ordered guardianship over her.

The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the soldier to an experienced pro bono attorney in her jurisdiction who was able to obtain written consent of the parents in Mexico, secure another pro bono attorney to represent the minor and file the necessary paperwork to obtain the guardianship for the servicemember. Due to the pro bono services of the soldier’s attorney, the servicemember can continue his military duties with the assurance that the minor permanently resides with him and is now enrolled in the military healthcare system as well as the on-post school system.

Marine Claims SCRA Violation by Auto Finance Co., Recovers Security Clearance with Pro Bono Help

April 10, 2017

A Marine purchased a vehicle prior to entry of active duty and financed it through an auto finance company. The servicemember originally set up automatic payments through his local bank account and, prior to leaving for boot camp, informed the finance company that he would start receiving his military salary from a military credit union and requested the discontinuation of the automatic payments from his local account. Nevertheless, the finance company did not stop the automatic payments and overdrafted the Marine’s original account. The servicemember then requested that the finance company reduce his interest rate to six percent, pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In response, however, the company repossessed his vehicle and sold it at an auction without a court order, also in violation of the SCRA. This repossession and collections process obstructed the Marine’s ability to acquire the computer access required for his military duties.

The servicemember’s military attorney attempted to contact the finance company on his behalf yet did not receive a response, so the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to quickly refer the Marine to an experienced pro bono attorney. This volunteer attorney was able to conduct extensive research on the matter, interview the Marine about his situation and correspond with the auto finance company on several occasions. The attorney’s efforts resulted in a successful resolution which included the elimination of the Marine’s debt, a commitment to clear up his credit history and an affidavit to obtain the security clearance the Marine needed to remain in the military and further his career.