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Sailor Obtains Guardianship Over Step-Child with Pro Bono Legal Help

July 31, 2017

A Navy servicemember had guardianship over his step-child from an order issued in another state. After the child’s mother and the servicemember got divorced, they reached a guardianship agreement for visitation because the servicemember has been the child’s acting father figure. However, unfortunately, the mother was recently killed in a car accident and the biological father previously lost all paternity rights so, in order for the child to be placed on the sailor’s health insurance and become a dependent of the sailor in the event of the servicemember’s change of duty station, the sailor wished to obtain permanent child custody.

The sailor had been attending court hearings out of state in this matter but was financially unable to continue travelling and the servicemember’s military legal assistance office determined that this service was beyond the scope of what it could supply. Fortunately, the ABA Military Pro Bono Project was able to quickly refer the servicemember to a team of pro bono attorneys who analyzed the jurisdictional issues involved, completed the necessary paperwork and ultimately secured a guardianship order for both the sailor and his wife—permanently reuniting the servicemember with his step-child and providing the family with greater stability.

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