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Marine Adopts Step-Daughter with Volunteer Legal Help

December 2, 2016

A Marine had a step-daughter whose biological father had no connection with the child since her birth several years earlier. The servicemember’s wife was never married to the biological father who was believed to be residing outside the country but whose whereabouts were unknown.  The Marine wished to adopt the child so the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred him to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to assist the servicemember with navigating the adoption process. The Marine’s attorney was able to draft a petition to terminate the parental rights of the biological father, make the necessary attempts to serve the biological father with the petition, arrange a social worker’s interview of the family and appear at adoption proceedings in court for the servicemember. Ultimately, with the generous assistance of his attorney, the Marine was able to adopt his step-child and return to his military duties with the knowledge that his relationship with his daughter was legally established.

Sailor Cleared of Alleged Child Support Arrearage with Pro Bono Legal Help

October 28, 2016

A Navy servicemember who was underway onboard a ship received notice that he was several thousand dollars in child support arrears, that his involuntary allotment amount was being increased and that his tax refund would be withheld to offset the increased amount. The sailor received this notice despite that he had paperwork confirming all payments were made since the child support order was entered. As a result of having to pay off this alleged debt, the sailor was facing financial hardship in caring for his current spouse and two minor children. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to arrange with the local child support enforcement agency to terminate the additional income garnishment and tax refund interception order. In addition, with the generous assistance of his volunteer attorney, the sailor was able to obtain credit for his excess support payments of nearly $3000 without the need to resort to litigation. Thus, the servicemember could now focus on his military duties with the stress of this financial hardship behind him.

Soldier Settles with Car Dealership due to Pro Bono Attorney Help

September 23, 2016

A young Army servicemember purchased a vehicle and a year later, brought her car back to the dealership for an annual inspection. The mechanic informed her that it appeared that the vehicle was previously in an accident. However, the soldier was never in an accident and when she purchased the vehicle, the car dealership did not provide information about this damage in their certified pre-owned inspection document. The servicemember took the car to another mechanic who agreed. Due to a bent frame, the soldier’s insurance company told her that the vehicle was essentially totaled and she was quickly referred to an experienced volunteer attorney in her jurisdiction by the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The servicemember’s attorney was able to research the legal issues governing her case, review background materials, advise the soldier on her legal rights and engage in communications and negotiations with the car dealership regarding the repair of her vehicle. Due to the generous assistance of her pro bono attorney, the servicemember was ultimately able to agree to a settlement which provided for the repair of her vehicle and reimbursements for previous repairs.

Overseas Sailor Cares for Homeless Father with Pro Bono Legal Help

August 8, 2016

A Navy servicemember’s father had been homeless. He was unable to care for himself or manage his finances due to physical disabilities and undiagnosed mental health complications. Fortunately, the servicemember had previously been able to live with, care for and support her father. However, since the sailor was the only family member available for him and she had been transferred overseas, she needed legal assistance in order handle his affairs in the future. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the sailor to a pro bono attorney with experience in guardianship and who was licensed in her father’s jurisdiction. The servicemember’s attorney drafted the estate planning documents that the sailor needed to make the medical and financial decisions necessary for the proper care of her father while also focusing on her military duties overseas.

Air Force Servicemember Obtains Divorce from Abusive Husband with Pro Bono Legal Help

July 15, 2016

An Air Force servicemember stationed in Europe had been a victim of domestic violence by her husband and had significant concerns for her safety. The servicemember’s husband was preventing her from leaving their residence, drained her bank account yet was continuing to receive military spousal support from her. The servicemember was ultimately able to leave the residence and the U.S. Army opened a criminal investigation on her husband but she wished to dissolve the marriage before he could inflict more physical, emotional and financial damage on her. Because the servicemember was stationed in Europe, attendance at hearings would be difficult, so a local attorney was needed to represent her in court and to obtain service of summons on her husband who was still overseas and avoiding service. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced volunteer attorney in her state of residence who was able to effectuate service of the complaint on her husband, appear in court on her behalf, draft a divorce agreement, obtain the parties’ signatures and file the necessary paperwork in court to finalize the divorce. Due to the generous assistance of her pro bono attorney, the servicemember can now return to her military duties without constant fear of domestic violence and a portion of her financial burden has been relieved.

$4,000 Tuition Lawsuit Against Servicemember Dismissed with Volunteer Legal Help

July 1, 2016

An Air Force servicemember’s university was holding the servicemember accountable for the costs of three classes she did not attend and brought a lawsuit against her for approximately $4,000. The servicemember asserted that one of the classes at issue was canceled due to low enrollment, and she never registered for the other two classes. The servicemember was also recently diagnosed with cancer and could not afford an attorney. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to a qualified volunteer attorney in her area to represent her. This attorney was successful in changing the venue of the case, assert counterclaims against the opposing party and ultimately persuade the court to dismiss all claims against the servicemember entirely.  Subsequently, the servicemember’s attorney followed up with her base’s education center and informed them that there may be systemic issues with her university’s billing practices and recommended that they perform an audit. Due to the generous time and efforts of her attorney, this servicemember can now refocus on her health-related issues and military duties without the stress of a pending lawsuit against her.

$14,000 Judgment Against Soldier by HOA Dismissed with Volunteer Legal Help

June 24, 2016

An Army servicemember, while stationed abroad, rented out her condominium. Without her knowledge, the renters failed to pay the homeowner association (HOA) fees and then, unbeknownst to the soldier, the HOA sued her for the fees and a judgment was ordered against her for approximately $14,000. The soldier was never properly served, and she was not aware of this problem until she found that her wages were scheduled to be garnished, likely in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Meanwhile, the HOA would no longer accept her payments so the amount she owed only continued to grow. Despite the efforts of the soldier’s overseas military attorney to resolve the matter, he was nonetheless unfamiliar with the local court procedures and could not represent her in court. So the ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to a qualified volunteer attorney in the locality in which the lawsuit was brought. After filing multiple pleadings and appearing in several court hearings, the soldier’s pro bono attorney was able to persuade the court to set aside the judgment and dismiss the underlying case against the soldier. Finally, in order to resolve the matter entirely, the servicemember’s pro bono attorney engaged in multiple settlement discussions with the HOA and was ultimately able to obtain a very favorable settlement for the servicemember, allowing her to refocus on her military duties while preserving her wages.