A Navy servicemember who is a single mother and primary caregiver for three children received a transfer order that required her to move away from her children’s servicemember father. The father, who also received an order to relocate, requested permission to move with the children to his transfer location which was approximately 1,500 miles away from where the mother was being transferred. In order to maintain stability for her children, the mother needed to request primary custody of them and permission to relocate with them to her new transfer location. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project connected the mother with a pro bono attorney to assist her in obtaining this challenging legal remedy. After many hours of preparation, the attorney represented the mother at a hearing in which the court ruled in the mother’s favor, granting her petition for relocation, awarding her primary physical custody of the children during the nine-month school year, and granting the father custody during summer vacations. The father’s counsel soon filed an appeal, to which the pro bono attorney prepared an appellate brief in response and presented the mother’s position at oral argument which again resulted in a favorable finding for her. In addition, while the appeal was pending, the pro bono attorney petitioned the court to modify the mother’s child support order to reflect the new custody arrangement, which resulted in her receiving nearly a $1000/month increase in child support payments. The attorney and his associates, who traditionally incur a high billing rate, generously contributed a significant amount of pro bono time to secure a much-needed result for this servicemember.
An Army servicemember had been stationed in a different state from his children and his wife would not allow him child visitation. As a result, the soldier wished to obtain a divorce with shared legal custody and a visitation order that coincided with his military duties. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project connected the servicemember with a pro bono attorney who generously provided an extraordinary number of hours to assist the servicemember. This attorney assisted in guiding the servicemember’s ex-spouse to obtain her own attorney, resolved alleged child support arrears which proved unfounded, and negotiated, drafted and arranged for a divorce settlement with an emphasis on maintaining contact with his child while on duty and during deployments.
An Air Force servicemember sought temporary guardianship of her 16 year-old niece who had been abandoned by her parents. The matter presented some unusual procedural hurdles since the servicemember had been located in Italy and her niece had been located in Georgia. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project connected the servicemember with a pro bono attorney who assisted the servicemember by filing letters of guardianship with a Georgia probate court. As a result, the servicemember was able to gain custody of her niece who was thereby allowed to relocate to Italy so she could live together with her aunt in a stable home.
An Air Force servicemember borrowed money from a relative and later repaid the loan. However, his relative filed suit against the servicemember for $10,000 plus attorney’s fees while he was deployed, so he was unable to provide documentation about his repayment to the court. The servicemember needed legal assistance to recover funds that were being garnished from his bank account due to a default order granted during his deployment. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project connected the servicemember with a pro bono attorney who represented the servicemember and his wife at trial. The court entered judgment against the servicemember for only approximately $500 without assessing fees and in favor of his wife, while awarding her costs against the Plaintiff.
An Air Force servicemember’s former husband had been incarcerated for several years from a conviction that involved abuse of his children and others. Fortunately for the children, the servicemember’s current husband had been acting as their father figure and wanted to pursue a step-parent adoption. The soldier’s husband sought pro bono help with the ABA Military Pro Bono Project which connected him with a pro bono attorney to assist him. The attorney successfully finalized an adoption which will give the servicemember and her children a stable family unit and allow the current husband to adequately care for the children in case the servicemember is deployed or is otherwise unavailable due to military service. Click here to read more from the servicemember’s perspective.
An Army servicemember’s ex-wife was granted majority timesharing with their children in their divorce decree. However, the ex-wife developed substance abuse problems and had been in and out of jail. Because she could not provide a stable home for their children, the soldier and his ex-wife signed an agreement to give temporary custody to the soldier. His ex-wife then wanted custody back, retained an attorney and filed a motion to regain custody. The soldier sought legal help with the ABA Military Pro Bono Project which connected him with a pro bono attorney. The soldier, through the assistance of this attorney, was able to modify the final divorce judgment which resulted in an increase in his custody and visitation rights while lowering the servicemember’s child support payments. The attorney also assisted the soldier to document thoroughly the informal arrangements the two parents had previously made.
A single mother serving in the Marines sought pro bono assistance to create a special needs trust for her child who was recently diagnosed with autism. The Marine was concerned that in the event of her death, a special needs trust needed to be put in place to guarantee that her son would be eligible for public benefits to support him. A JAG officer drafted advance directives for the servicemember; however, because special needs trusts fell beyond the JAG’s expertise, the officer referred the Marine to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Marine was then placed by the Project with a volunteer attorney who has expertise in special needs trusts. The attorney provided the Marine with a pour-over will and a special needs trust for the benefit of her and her child.