A Marine’s wife and young son moved across the country to join him on base. Shortly thereafter, the Marine was deployed overseas, requiring him to leave behind a legal dispute with their moving company. The dispute centered on the moving company’s refusal to return the Marine’s security deposit and provide the necessary documentation that would avoid the servicemember from being personally charged for all costs by the Marine Corps who paid for the move. In addition, to the family’s astonishment, the moving company lost the family cat during the move, damaged several of the Marine’s possessions, including his child’s handmade toy box, and refused to reimburse the servicemember’s family for their loss. Unfortunately, neither the Marine nor his military legal assistance attorney were able to resolve the dispute despite several attempts. The servicemember was then referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project who was able to connect the Marine to an experienced team of pro bono attorneys in his area to assist him. The volunteer attorneys forwarded demand letters to the moving company and were ultimately able to negotiate a settlement agreement in the Marine’s favor and arrange for payment by the moving company. As a result of his pro bono attorneys’ efforts, the Marine can better focus on his military missions knowing that his family’s distressing legal dispute is resolved.
An Air Force servicemember and his wife had assumed sole responsibility for the care of the wife’s minor sister who was suffering from bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and self-injury from constant bullying. The airman’s sister-in-law had no medical insurance but would qualify for his insurance if she became the legal dependent of the airman. The child was residing with her sister and the servicemember for several months and her biological mother was consenting to the transfer, however, the servicemember needed legal help to obtain custody over his sister-in-law before she could be considered a dependent. Within one day of receiving the case from the servicemember’s military attorney, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to place the airman with an experienced family and mental health law volunteer attorney in his area. Within only four months of placement, the airman’s attorney was able to obtain waivers from the biological parents, file the required documents, appear in court on the servicemember’s behalf, and obtain an agreed order granting him conservatorship over his sister-in-law. All parties are satisfied that the new custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests and she finally has access to the medical care that she desperately needs.
An Air Force servicemember and his spouse purchased a used vehicle and a three year warranty. Approximately four months after the purchase, the vehicle started having major problems, such as reverting to limp mode when driving up a hill, which required a few thousand dollars in repairs. The insurance company was refusing to pay for the repairs, even though the repairs appear to be covered by the warranty. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to refer the airman to an experienced pro bono attorney who, within less than two months of receiving the case, was able to negotiate a settlement of the matter on terms very favorable to the servicemember. As a result, due to the efforts of his volunteer attorney, the airman and his wife will soon be compensated for the repair of their vehicle while avoiding the time, expense and stress of engaging in formal legal proceedings.
An Army servicemember’s 18-month old child had been residing with the servicemember’s mother since birth. The child’s father had been chronically behind in child support payments and had seen the child only a few times in her life. Less than a week before the soldier was to be deployed overseas, the child’s father filed for emergency custody. The servicemember had reason to believe that the child’s father was filing for custody in order to avoid and obtain child support and also obtain additional military benefits for housing of military dependents. The ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to refer the soldier to an experienced and dedicated pro bono attorney who persuaded the court that it was in the best interest of the child for her to remain in her mother’s care until the child became familiar with her father through visitation. With volunteer attorney assistance, the court ultimately granted the servicemember custody of her child and, while the soldier was serving overseas, the child was allowed to remain in the care of her maternal grandmother.
An Air Force servicemember owned a home with a housemate and when he received military orders to serve abroad, they sold the home. While the airman was stationed abroad, and without his knowledge, the homeowners association obtained a default judgment for unpaid dues to the association, plus over $4500 in costs and attorney fees, without providing proper notice to the servicemember and in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). He was not appointed counsel, as is required by the SCRA, and his wages were already being garnished to collect on the judgment, so the airman needed legal assistance immediately to help overturn the judgment.
The ABA Military Pro Bono Project quickly referred the servicemember to an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction who was able to file a motion to vacate the default judgment in court and argue the motion in a contentious hearing. The volunteer attorney ultimately prevailed and the court vacated the judgment against the airman. In addition, the pro bono attorney was successful in persuading the homeowners association to permanently dismiss the complaint against the servicemember and return all fees (with the exception of the original unpaid dues) and interest collected through the garnishment of the airman’s military wages. The servicemember has since received payment and his attorney appreciated the opportunity to serve the airman.
A Navy servicemember stationed in Europe wanted to marry but was prevented from doing so without a certified copy of her birth certificate. The sailor was unable to retrieve the certificate from the state because she discovered that when she had been a ward of the state as a child, her biological mother had changed her name on her birth certificate without notifying her. The servicemember, therefore, needed legal assistance to obtain her original birth certificate in order to proceed with her marriage and was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project by her military attorney. Within days, the Project matched the sailor with an experienced pro bono attorney who was able to contact the state vital records office in the place where the servicemember was born and started a proceeding for a name change order. Initially, the court rejected the application because the sailor was stationed overseas and, therefore, no longer resided in that state. In response, the servicemember’s attorney submitted a memorandum of law showing that the law prohibited discrimination against an active service member on this basis. Ultimately, the attorney was successful in persuading the court to issue a name change order and arranged for entry and submission of the order to the state. As a result, due to the dedication of her volunteer attorney over the course of a year, an amended birth certificate was issued to the servicemember, finally allowing her to marry.
A Navy servicemember’s 12-year-old nephew was born in the United States to parents who were both in the U.S. illegally. The father was not involved in the child’s life and the nephew’s mother had been deported, requiring him to return with her to Mexico where she could not afford to provide him with an education. Fortunately, the sailor had a close relationship with his nephew and could provide him a better home, educational opportunities and extended family support. At the consent of the nephew’s mother, the sailor wished to obtain guardianship over his nephew and needed legal assistance to accomplish this upon his return from deployment overseas. Within two weeks of referral by the servicemember’s military attorney, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to place the sailor with an experienced pro bono attorney to assist him in his jurisdiction. The volunteer attorney was able to prepare and file a petition and notices of guardianship with the court and, due to the attorney’s assistance, letters of guardianship were ultimately issued to the servicemember for custody of his nephew in the United States.