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Sailor Granted Emergency Custody Over Daughter After Learning of Abuse from Family Member

June 9, 2021

A Navy servicemember was deployed overseas when he learned that his young daughter, who lived with her mother, was being sexually abused by a family member. The sailor returned from his deployment immediately and sought emergency custody of his daughter, as it was discovered that her mother was aware of the abuse. The sailor visited his legal assistance office, which referred his case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project placed his case with a volunteer attorney.

Another jurisdiction ultimately took control over the case, but the pro bono attorney stayed in touch with the sailor and explained how the system worked, as child services was also involved. The sailor prevailed and obtained custody over his daughter, and the new order included a provision for his daughter to live with the sailor’s mother while he finished out his deployment. The pro bono attorney also offered to represent the sailor pro bono in the future if there is a challenge to the modified custody order by the mother in his state.

An Airman and his Wife Adopt their Niece with the Help of Their Pro Bono Attorney

May 21, 2021

An Air Force servicemember and his wife had a niece who was suffering in an unsafe home environment with her parents. Her father had recently been arrested for child abuse, and her mother was addicted to substances. The Airman and his wife believed they could care for the child and give her a safe and stable home. They visited their local legal assistance office for advice about how to adopt the child.

Their legal assistance attorney referred their case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which connected them with a local pro bono attorney. The attorney guided the couple through the adoption process, and the couple successfully adopted their niece.

Pro Bono Attorneys Help Sailor in Basic Training Retain Primary Custody of Daughter

May 6, 2021

A Navy servicemember was in basic training when she learned that her child’s father was seeking primary physical custody of the child. Before that point, the child had lived exclusively with her mother. Although the father had not been involved in the child’s life, he was able to get a temporary custody order granting him joint custody. Due to the change in custody, the child experienced psychological problems and had to start seeing a therapist. Concerned for her child, the sailor visited her legal assistance office for help. Her JAG referred her case to the Military Pro Bono Project, which connected her with a pro bono attorney.

The pro bono attorneys took over the handling of the sailor’s case and represented her in court while she finished basic training. Eventually, her attorneys were able to secure a favorable court order granting the sailor almost complete custody of her child.

Airman Awarded Custody of Child After Spouse Became Violent and Wouldn’t Allow Airman to Visit the Child

April 9, 2021

An Air Force servicemember and his spouse had a child together, and shortly thereafter the spouse became distant, and the couple separated. The spouse only allowed the Airman to have supervised visits for about 1 hour a week with the child. The spouse would not share information with her husband about the child’s pediatrician, would not allow the Airman’s family to see the child, even through FaceTime, and was physically abusive to her husband. Worried about his child’s safety, he visited his legal assistance office. His case was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, and he was matched with a pro bono attorney.
The pro bono attorney advocated for the Airman throughout the contested divorce and custody trial. With the volunteer attorney’s help, the Airman was awarded custody of the child in the divorce judgment.

After False Allegations of Abuse from Spouse, Volunteer Attorney Successfully Defends Airman in Restraining Order Suit

March 31, 2021

An Airman and his wife had a turbulent relationship. After a specific incident, military police issued temporary restraining orders against both parties. The Airman’s wife sought a permanent restraining order against him claiming that he was abusive, which was false. He visited his legal assistance office for help defending himself in the case. His case was placed with a volunteer attorney through the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The volunteer defended the Airman in the hearing and the judge decided not to issue the permanent restraining order against the Airman, clearing his name and protecting his military career.

After her Landlord Violated the SCRA, a Pro Bono Attorney Helped to Clear a Soldier’s Past-Due Balance with her Landlord

March 22, 2021

An Army soldier’s apartment was flooded due to construction completed outside of her unit. She notified her landlord and requested that the apartment complex’s maintenance team repair the damages from the flooding. After multiple requests, the maintenance was never performed and mold began to form in the apartment, causing health issues for both the soldier’s child and husband. In the midst of this, the soldier received military orders forcing her to relocate. She notified her landlord in a timely matter that she would need to terminate her lease early, which she was entitled to do by the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). After relocating, she was surprised to find out that she was charged an early termination fee for the lease, as well as for the damages from the flooding by her previous landlord.

The soldier visited her legal assistance office, and her case was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project connected the soldier with an attorney. With the pro bono attorney’s help, the soldier’s balance with her former landlord was completely cleared, and the negative credit reporting on her file was also removed.

Stepchild Raised by Marine is Successfully Adopted with Pro Bono Attorney’s Help

March 9, 2021

A Marine servicemember married his wife, who had a young child from a prior relationship. The child’s biological father was not involved in the child’s life and had never paid any amount of child support. The Marine cared for his wife’s child as if the child were his own for the majority of the child’s life, and wanted to adopt him, but he did not have the funds to hire an attorney.  The Marine sought assistance from his military legal assistance office, which referred his case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project.

The Project placed the Marine’s case with a pro bono attorney. The attorney successfully obtained an adoption judgment for the stepchild, allowing the Marine to officially adopt his son.

With Attorney’s Help, Soldier Obtains Favorable Modified Custody Order

February 17, 2021

An Army servicemember had previously gone through a divorce from her abusive spouse, and the divorce decree severely limited her visitation time with her child. At the time of the divorce, she was unrepresented by counsel while her spouse had counsel, and she was coerced to sign the divorce agreement. The soldier’s military assignment was changed so that she would be in the same state as her child, and she wanted to spend more time with them. She visited her legal assistance office to seek help. Her legal assistance attorney referred her case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which placed her case with a pro bono attorney.

The soldier’s ex-spouse filed a motion against the soldier, and the pro bono attorney attended the hearing to successfully defend the servicemember. Eventually, the parties came to an agreement to revise the custody agreement.  

Volunteer Attorney Protects Sailor’s Disability Pay and Parental Rights in Divorce Settlement

February 10, 2021

A Navy servicemember returned home from an extended deployment and struggled to adjust to life at home with his family. Shortly after his return, he was diagnosed with cancer. He became depressed and his wife filed for divorce. Overwhelmed, he sought assistance from a military legal assistance attorney. His case was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project and he was matched with a pro bono attorney.

Despite complexities that arose due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteer attorney successfully negotiated with the wife’s attorney and the parties agreed on a parenting agreement, as well as a financial settlement agreement to protect the sailor’s disability pay.

Volunteer Attorney Helped Marine Stationed Overseas Protect Military Retirement Benefits in Divorce Case

January 25, 2021

A Marine servicemember was stationed overseas when his wife filed for divorce in the United States. He had an upcoming hearing in the U.S., but he was unable to attend due to his overseas deployment and movement restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The servicemember visited his legal assistance office for help. His case was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which placed his case with a pro bono attorney.

Despite some complexities and delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the pro bono attorney negotiated with opposing counsel to protect the Marine’s military retirement benefits, and the eventually the parties came to an agreement on the couple’s behalf and a divorce judgment was entered.