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Pro Bono Attorneys Help Parents Get Guardianship Over Incapacitated Navy Son, and Subsequently Help Terminate the Guardianship When Servicemember Miraculously Recovers

March 13, 2019

After a horrific motorcycle accident, a Navy servicemember suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and was left in a long-term incapacitated state. Due to the servicemember’s condition, his parents sought to be named as his guardians, allowing them to handle his medical and legal decisions moving forward. Distraught and confused, the servicemember’s parents visited a military legal assistance office to seek help, where a military attorney referred them to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember’s parents with pro bono attorneys who successfully achieved the parents’ goal—they were appointed as the guardians and conservators of their son.

However, approximately four months later, the servicemember started showing remarkable progress in his recovery. The volunteer attorneys from the prior case became re-involved, and after reviewing a report from the servicemember’s treating physician, they filed a Petition to Modify or Terminate Guardianship and Conservatorship. Recently, the petition was granted, and the court entered an order terminating the parents’ guardianship. While the servicemember’s recovery is still ongoing, his rights have been fully restored.

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Pro Bono Attorney Helps Navy Servicemember Receive Favorable Settlement with Auto Finance Company

January 30, 2019

Before joining the Navy, a servicemember purchased a vehicle from a car dealership with a loan provided by an auto finance company. Initially, the interest rate of the loan was 24%; however, when the servicemember enlisted, he requested the loan be reduced to 6%, which is a relief listed under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). In violation of the SCRA, the auto finance company failed to take any actions, and it continued to charge the servicemember the original interest rate.

With concerns about his ability to pay the 24% interest rate, the Navy servicemember visited a military legal assistance office to discuss the situation. A JAG issued a demand letter to the auto finance company and subsequently entered negotiations with them; however, the auto finance company still failed to resolve the matter. The JAG then referred the case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which connected the servicemember with an attorney who offered to provide pro bono representation. With the volunteer attorney’s assistance, the servicemember and auto finance company entered into a settlement agreement, and the servicemember was released from his obligation to pay the remaining balance on the car loan.

With Pro Bono Help, Navy Mother Gains Sole Custody Over Minor Child With Developmental Disorder

January 11, 2019

A Navy servicemember wished to obtain sole custody of her minor child with a developmental disorder. The child’s father had been absent from the child’s life since birth, and had not provided the mother with any child support. Moreover, the mother was concerned that the father lacked the skills and resources necessary to care for a minor child with a disability. Despite his previous lack of interest in the child, the father sued the mother for joint custody.

The mother then visited a military legal assistance office to seek help, where a military attorney referred her to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember with an attorney who offered to provide pro bono representation. After helping with the necessary legal actions for this case—such as appearing at court hearings, depositions, drafting and sending discovery, and ultimately negotiating the dismissal—the biological father eventually dropped his case for joint custody and relinquished his parental rights. This allowed the mother to maintain custody of her child, and the mother’s husband could finally make a stepparent adoption.

Pro Bono Attorney Helps Sailor Obtain Guardianship Over Adult Son

August 29, 2018

A Navy servicemember is a mother of a disabled adult son, and she learned that she needed to be appointed as his guardian so she could continue to make medical, financial, and other decisions for him. Her immediate concern was obtaining the authority to move her son to a residential care facility near relatives in another state, while she would be away for military duties.

She visited a military legal assistance office, which referred her to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember with an attorney who offered to provide pro bono representation. After helping with the necessary legal actions for this uncontested case—such as filing for guardianship and providing representation at hearings—the servicemember was awarded guardianship. The servicemember was then able to help her son move into a home where he would have regular visits from his supportive family.

 

Volunteer Attorney Helps Sailor Modify Child Custody Order

July 5, 2018

During the end of his deployment, a Navy servicemember was informed that Child Protective Services removed his child from his ex-wife’s home and was placed with the servicemember’s mother, the child’s grandmother. When the servicemember and ex-wife divorced, they agreed that the ex-wife would have primary physical child custody. However, a few years after the divorce, his ex-wife developed major substance abuse problems and could not provide a safe home.

The servicemember was confident that he could provide a safe and stable home for his child, along with consistent care with relatives if deployed again in the future, but he needed help to move through the court system. The servicemember visited a military legal assistance office, which referred this case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program located an attorney who offered to provide pro bono help. With the volunteer attorney’s assistance, the servicemember obtained sole custody of his child and the mother was restricted to supervised visitation.

 

Domestic Violence Victim Obtains Divorce with Volunteer Attorney’s Help

May 25, 2018

A Navy servicemember was a victim of violence and sexual assault from her husband. She obtained an order of protection against her husband, but she needed help to move forward with a divorce. She visited a military legal assistance office on her base to seek help, where a military attorney referred her to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember with a civilian attorney who offered pro bono representation for her divorce. The volunteer attorney helped the servicemember throughout the divorce proceedings to obtain a dissolution of marriage.

Attorney Helps the Mother of a Sailor in Tragic Accident

April 16, 2018

A Navy servicemember was in a serious vehicle accident, which caused major brain and spinal injuries. It was expected that he would be in a long-term incapacitated state. His mother needed to be appointed as his guardian so she could handle his affairs, including his property and medical decisions. She visited a military legal assistance office for guidance, which referred her to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the servicemember’s mother with an attorney who offered pro bono help.

The volunteer attorney prepared all necessary documents to petition the court for the mother’s appointment as her son’s guardian. However, miraculously, the servicemember regained consciousness and recovered to the extent that he could provide informed consent to provide his mother with a power of attorney and execute related forms, including a living will and healthcare surrogate documents. With this, the mother obtained legal authority to make personal, financial, and medical decisions on behalf of her son, so she can ensure that he receives proper care.

With this authority, the mother could also help with her son’s procedures for a medical discharge from the Navy and obtaining VA benefits. The volunteer attorney went above and beyond to provide continued pro bono assistance for these procedures. The servicemember was ultimately medically discharged and received the expected benefits from the Navy and VA.