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With Pro Bono Legal Help, Airman Adopts Adult Disabled Siblings

January 5, 2018

An Air Force servicemember had guardianship over her two adult siblings. Both siblings are disabled and suffer from autism. Because of some complications with the guardianship orders, the servicemember’s application to declare her siblings as military dependents was denied. To resolve this, the servicemember needed to either modify her guardianship orders or adopt her disabled children.

After visiting a military legal assistance office to discuss this issue, a JAG referred this servicemember to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which located an attorney who volunteered to help. Determining that an adoption would be the best solution for this family, the volunteer attorney represented the servicemember through the legal process of adopting her siblings. Thanks to this volunteer attorney’s assistance, the servicemember can now claim her siblings as dependents and better care for them through military services and benefits. This will also help the servicemember with her military readiness, especially when she needs to make arrangements for her siblings before potential deployments.



With Pro Bono Help, Sailor and His Wife Appointed as Their Disabled Adult Child’s Guardians

December 5, 2017

A Navy servicemember and his wife have a disabled daughter. When their daughter was 17 years old and just weeks before becoming a legal adult, they visited a military legal assistance office to discuss their concern that their daughter would be unable to care for herself as an adult. Recognizing that they needed to establish guardianship but would struggle to afford hiring an attorney, a JAG at the legal assistance office referred this military family to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project.

The program connected this military family with an attorney who offered pro bono representation. This attorney successfully helped this servicemember and his wife get appointed as their daughter’s guardian advocates through a court order. With this, this servicemember and his wife could continue to provide needed care and medical attention to their adult daughter.


With Attorney’s Pro Bono Representation, Soldier Reunited with Daughter

November 16, 2017

A soldier had not seen his daughter for years, and he desperately wanted a relationship with her. Despite a parenting plan in his divorce decree, the Army servicemember’s ex-wife had refused to allow any child visitation, and she often moved to unknown locations without notifying the soldier. After the soldier discovered his ex-wife’s location, he visited a military legal assistance office to discuss proper actions so he could see his child.

A military legal assistance attorney referred the soldier’s case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which placed the soldier with a local volunteer family law attorney. With the attorney’s pro bono representation, the court held the soldier’s ex-wife in contempt and ultimately established a new custody and visitation order. The soldier was overjoyed to have the opportunity to visit his daughter. After the soldier and his daughter began spending time with each other, they were both delighted to be reunited and start a new father-daughter relationship.


Volunteer Attorney Helps Soldier with Lawsuit Against Car Dealership

October 30, 2017

An Army servicemember obtained a loan to purchase a used vehicle from a car dealership. In the purchase agreement, the dealership acknowledged that the car had an engine problem and agreed to fix it. However, after finalizing the sale, it refused to make the agreed repairs. The soldier then obtained an independent inspection and discovered that the vehicle was irreparably damaged, unsafe to drive, and previously totaled, which was not disclosed by the dealership. The soldier wanted to return the vehicle or get a refund.

Without any cooperation from the dealership, the soldier visited a military legal assistance office, where a Judge Advocate (JAG) recognized the soldier’s need for legal representation from a civilian attorney. Because the soldier could not afford to hire an attorney, the JAG referred the soldier to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project. The program connected the soldier with an attorney who offered pro bono representation. The volunteer attorney filed a lawsuit against the dealership and ultimately reached a successful settlement for the soldier. Through the settlement, the dealership provided a refund to pay off the soldier’s loan in exchange for a return of the vehicle.


Volunteer Attorney Helps Marine and Wife Obtain Custody Over Niece

September 19, 2017

A Marine and his wife found their four-year-old niece in a devastating situation. The child’s mother and father were both in jail. Although both incarcerated parents wanted their child to reside with the Marine and his wife, another relative took possession of the child and planned to fight for custody. This relative had a long criminal history, was violent, and was not fit to care for the child. For the child’s safety, the Marine and his wife removed the child from the relative. Soon thereafter, they realized that they needed to take quick legal actions and, because they were stationed in another state, needed help from a local attorney.

The Marine and his wife visited a military legal assistance attorney who referred their case to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project, which promptly secured an experienced volunteer family law attorney. Through the attorney’s dedicated pro bono legal representation, the Marine and his wife received a positive outcome: They obtained a temporary custody order over their niece. The military family—along with the incarcerated parents—could rest assured that the young child would have a safe and stable home during a difficult time, along with services provided by the military to help with the child’s mental health issues.


Sailor Cleared of Parents’ Debt with Volunteer Attorney Help

August 26, 2017

A young Navy servicemember resided with his parents in their apartment, both while a minor and after he reached the age of adulthood. His parents fell behind on rent payments. The servicemember was not a party on his parents’ lease, as he was only listed as an occupant. However, when the sailor was denied a request for automobile funding, he learned that he was being held accountable for his parents’ unpaid rent and damages on the apartment and the landlord and collection agency were holding him responsible for this debt. The sailor learned that the longer the improper claim appeared on his credit report, the more difficult it would be for him to obtain credit and may also impact his security clearance.

After efforts by the sailor’s military legal assistance office to resolve the dispute with the debt collection agency were unsuccessful, the servicemember was referred to the ABA Military Pro Bono Project which was able to quickly place the servicemember with an experienced pro bono attorney in his jurisdiction. After numerous attempts to resolve the matter, the sailor’s attorney represented him in a lawsuit against the debt collector and, within several months of filing, negotiated a settlement agreement between the parties out of court. The sailor’s pro bono attorney felt this representation had been one of the most rewarding of his career, and more importantly, the servicemember can now return to his military duties without fear of further debt collection on this claim and with his security clearance intact.

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.