A common misconception among military members and civilians is the function of the Legal Office on base or on post. Many mistakenly believe that the JAG office is there to handle all legal issues for military members and their dependents. This is patently false. The JAG office and the attorneys and paralegals on staff represent the Command. These professionals represent the unit in legal matters, to include prosecution of military members that are accused of misconduct. The Legal Office on every base provides walk-in hours to assist with very limited family law issues for military members.
Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney
One requirement for all military members is a living will. Therefore, the Legal Office on each installation is required to provide wills to military members to keep them mission-ready and cut down on issues if the member passes away while under contract. Powers of attorney are also part of mission requirements for members, and these documents may also be obtained at the installation Legal Office. Trusts are a gray area; if time permits and an attorney that is well-versed in trusts is present, military members may be assisted in creating a trust to go along with their will.
Divorce, Separation, Adoption
Military attorneys are not authorized to represent military members in civilian legal matters, to include divorce, separation or adoption cases. The service member must obtain civilian counsel. However, if an attorney at the installation's Legal Office has any knowledge on these issues, they may provide some limited advice to the member. The base or post Legal Office is also a great place to go for a referral to a competent civilian attorney in the local area that can provide assistance.
Advice, Notary Services
When time permits, attorneys on staff at the JAG Office can provide limited legal advice to military members. This includes referrals to a local civilian attorney. Just like their civilian counterparts, military paralegals can draft and notarize documents, but they are not authorized to provide advice to clients. Notary services are simple and are provided to all military members, time permitting. If a member is facing discipline or prosecution for alleged misconduct, the installation Legal Office can provide contact information for the Area Defense Counsel, which serves as defense attorneys for military members in military matters only.
Legal assistance to military members is provided as time permits; pressing Command legal issues take precedence. It is best to call ahead to verify that attorney is present to provide advice, or if a notary will be available to notarize documents.Share
11 March 2016
Like many people, I once found learning about law very intimidating. My brother went to law school and I remember glancing through a few of his books and wondering if I was actually reading English due to all of the legal jargon in them! However, when I ended up in a sticky legal situation due to accidentally breaking a small law I didn't know existed, I realized that I needed to learn more about the law, so I could make sure to follow it precisely in the future. My brother helped to break down some complicated legal concepts to me, and I have since been studying up online. I want to post what I have learned and continue to learn about law in the future on my new blog, so my knowledge cannot only help myself, but also help others!