What matters can I receive legal help with?

Please note that while a case might be within the scope of the matters the program provides legal assistance with, there are certain services on those matters that are outside the scope of what the program provides.

  • Family Law – Find the legal help you need with marriage, annulment, legal separation, divorce, financial nonsupport, child custody and visitation, and paternity cases. Getting help in adoption and other family law cases may be provided based on the availability of expertise and resources.
  • Estates – Get help with wills, testamentary trusts for the benefit of minors, guardianship, designation of beneficiaries under life insurance policies (including the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI)), preparing advanced medical directives, and organ donation paperwork.
  • Real property – Assistance will be provided to tenants on leases, landlord-tenant issues, and disputes involving a client's principal residence, including the termination of pre-service leases under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act. Legal help may also be provided on matters relating to the purchase, sale, and rental of a client's principal residence or other property depending on available resources.
  • Personal property – Assistance provided to those purchasing personal property on all legal matters relating to the purchase. This includes, but not limited to, contracts, chattel mortgages, security agreements, warranties, cancellations, and other consumer affairs matters. Assistance may be limited depending on availability for those seeking assistance with selling or leasing personal property.
  • Economic - Assistance will be provided to debtors on disputes over lending agreements, and to those requiring help on bankruptcy, garnishment orders, involuntary allotment applications for judgment indebtedness, debt, banking, credit card, property insurance problems, and non-government claims. Soldiers can also get assistance in seeking reemployment under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and comparable state statutes subject to the following restrictions:
    1. Under USERRA, service members who leave civilian jobs to go on active duty have the right to return to those jobs when they are released from active duty. However, USERRA is enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL) through its Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS). DOL and Department of Justice (DOJ) will not work on any USERRA cases where the client has already represented by an attorney. Thus, the Army will allow you to discuss the situation with attorneys in the legal assistance program, but those attorneys are not supposed to take any action on that case.
    2. Legal assistance for Veterans Reemployment Rights Law (VRRL) matters are limited to:
      1. Conducting mobilization briefings and advising service members on the notice requirements of USERRA.
      2. Conducting demobilzation briefings and otherwise advising returning service members of their rights under USERRA.
      3. Providing sample letter formats for use by returning service members in asserting their USERRA rights with their employers.
      4. Referring service members to VETS or the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NCESGR).
      5. Providing service members DOL Form 1010 to open a file with VETS and assisting in the preparation of the form.
      6. Periodically contacting service members who have sought help on employment problems to determine if their employment problems have been resolved.
    3. Legal assistance to creditors on disputes over lending agreements may be provided if there are available resources and expertise.
  • Civilian Administrative – Administrative and quasi-judicial matters within the primary jurisdiction of a municipal, state, federal, or foreign agency. Assistance will be provided on request for notarizations. Assistance may be provided on name change, immigration, naturalization, welfare assistance, and other cases based on the availability of resources.
  • Military administrative - Legal assistance will be provided to clients on military administrative matters if required by law or Army regulation. In absence of such requirement, a supervising attorney may decline to provide legal assistance. Subject to other US Army Trial Defense Service (USATDS) mission requirements, USATDS attorneys should ordinarily assist soldiers on military administrative actions that are initiated on the basis of alleged violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or are related to impending, pending, or recently completed UCMJ proceedings.
  • Torts - Legal assistance will be provided on invoking whatever protections may be afforded under SSCRA on matters relating to the prosecution or defense of civil lawsuits based on alleged tortious conduct. Other legal assistance may be provided, but such assistance will be limited to counseling and assistance in retaining a civilian lawyer. In situations where a client is facing a civil lawsuit as a result of actions taken within the scope of his or her official duties, those clients may be entitled to representation by the DOJ and should be referred to a claims judge advocate or US Army Litigation Center.
  • Taxes - Legal assistance will be provided on real and personal property tax issues and on the preparation of federal and state income tax returns. Assistance may be provided on estate, inheritance, and gift tax matters, electronic filing of income tax returns, and appealing tax rulings and other findings based on the availability of resources.
  • Civilian criminal matters – Assistance may be provided on civilian criminal matters based on the availability of resources. Clients may be provided with general advice on these matters, such as explaining the nature of the charge against the client, possible punishments, and criminal procedure. Attorneys may contact civilian courts or prosecuting officials to obtain information and to request delays in proceedings, dismissal or reduction of charges, and other such matters. Except for cases pending before a US Magistrate on a military installation, attorneys may not provide in-court representation to clients in civilian criminal proceedings but can receive assistance in retaining a civilian lawyer for that role.

The following matters are outside of the scope of the legal assistance program and not reported as cases eligible for assistance.

  • Military justice matters – Service members seeking help on UCMJ issues or on proceedings being conducted pursuant to the UCMJ are to seek assistance from USATDS attorneys, military defense counsel in one of the other military branches, or civilian lawyers, as appropriate.
  • Private business activities
  • Litigation against the United States – Legal assistance attorneys will not advise or appear as counsel for a client filing a claim against the United States or in a civil lawsuit in which the United States government has an interest.
  • Employment matters – the only exceptions are those involving enforcement or USERRA.

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