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Sailor Granted Emergency Custody Over Daughter After Learning of Abuse from Family Member

June 9, 2021

A Navy servicemember was deployed overseas when he learned that his young daughter, who lived with her mother, was being sexually abused by a family member. The sailor returned from his deployment immediately and sought emergency custody of his daughter, as it was discovered that her mother was aware of the abuse. The sailor visited his legal assistance office, which referred his case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The Project placed his case with a volunteer attorney.

Another jurisdiction ultimately took control over the case, but the pro bono attorney stayed in touch with the sailor and explained how the system worked, as child services was also involved. The sailor prevailed and obtained custody over his daughter, and the new order included a provision for his daughter to live with the sailor’s mother while he finished out his deployment. The pro bono attorney also offered to represent the sailor pro bono in the future if there is a challenge to the modified custody order by the mother in his state.

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