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Airman Obtains Custody of Minor, Providing Mental Health Insurance, with Volunteer Attorney Help

April 22, 2016

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.

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