Welcome to the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate’s Legal Assistance Office Home Page.
Mission: To provide proactive, timely, thoughtful, well-researched, candid legal advice and assistance to our clients in the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield communities.
Generally, any motor vehicle purchased and titled in Georgia is subject to a title ad valorem tax fee. Active duty servicemembers and their dependents may qualify to be exempt from this tax. Legal Assistance Office can provide you with the proper documentation to provide Georgia Department of Revenue – Motor Vehicle Division for this exemption.
Who qualifies for Georgia Ad Valorem (Vehicle) Tax Exemption?
Any active duty member of the armed services, who is not a Georgia resident, who is a citizen of the United States, and who is stationed at a military instrumentality within the State of Georgia solely by virtue of military orders. Qualified dependents means such servicemember’s spouse who is not a Georgia resident, such servicemember’s child who is not a Georgia resident, or an individual who is not a Georgia resident for whom the servicemember provided more than one-half of the individual’s support for 180 days preceding request for relief under the SCRA.
What do I need to bring to get the Vehicle Tax Exemption Form?
The registered owner of the vehicle (service member ordependent) must bring the service members most recent end of month LES andtheir Military ID card. If using a power of attorney (POA) bring the originalPOA.
Our attorneys assist clients with many areas of practice including family law (divorce, paternity, support, adoption). The majority of the family law filing forms can be received online and may require an attorney appointment.
Can I get an attorney to represent me for my divorce?
No. They cannot represent you in court. LAO attorneys canonly assist with uncontested divorce and helping our clients review understandlegal documents. However, if you already have an attorney representing you onthat matter LAO attorneys cannot assist you in any way.
What is the difference between uncontested and contested divorce?
A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannotagree, either about getting divorced or about the terms of the divorce, such asthe division of assets, allocation of debts, alimony, child support, or thecustody of children.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on everythingand do not need the court to divide assets or make determinations about spousalor child support or custody. In general, an uncontested divorce will proceedthrough the system more quickly, be much less complicated, and less of a financialburden.
Where can I get the documents to file for divorce or legal separation?
Click HERE for all family law related documentation to file in Georgia.
I separated from my spouse do I have to pay anything?
Army Regulation 608-99, Chapter 2 establishes guidelines for support of Family Members. If a court order or written agreement states the amount of support that must be provided, then the Soldier must provide the amount stated. However, if no court order or written agreement exists, then the minimum financial support requirements specified in AR 608-99 will dictate until the parties obtain an order or written agreement. Legal Assistance can provide you with the amount of BAH II WITH for the current year and help you determine your obligation under the regulation.
Please click HERE for more information.
Please click HERE for the current 2018 Non-Locality BAH Rates.
Who is required to follow AR 608-99’s support obligations?
AR 608-99 applies to the:
(1) Active Army, including cadetsat the U.S. Military Academy;
(2) The U.S. Army Reserve on active duty pursuantto orders for 30 days or more;
(3) All members of the Army National Guard ofthe United States on active duty for 30 days or more;
(4) Members of the ArmyNational Guard on active duty for 30 days or more pursuant to orders underTitle 32, United States Code, except for the punitive provisions of thisregulation;
(5) Family members who are command sponsored and reside outside ofthe United States;
(6) Soldiers receiving full or partial pay and allowanceswhile confined at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks or other confinementfacilities.
In a child custody matter, what State has jurisdiction over the matter?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJA”) has been adopted by 49 States (excluding Massachusetts). For initial custody matters, the UCCJA looks at the child or children’s “home State,” which is the State the child lived in with a parent (or a person acting as a parent) for at least six (6) consecutive months immediately before the commencement of a proceeding. However, there are other factors that may change initial jurisdiction. Legal Assistance can help you determine which State likely has jurisdiction.
Georgia law is specific in defining the rights and obligations of Landlords and Tenants. Because of these laws, military personnel and Family Members should know the consequences before they take any action.
What should I do before renting a home or apartment?
Walk through the home or apartment (with theLandlord if possible) and document all pre-lease damage with photos.Afterwards, send photos to the Landlord via registered mail or otherconfirmation. Legal Assistance will review any lease agreements prior to yousigning and discuss any concerns with the agreement.
What if I want to make some changes to my current lease?
The lease isa binding contract between the Landlord and Tenant. Moreover, a court will ensure that the partiesto a contract abide by its terms. If thelease violates Georgia law or public policy, then a court will not enforce itsterms.
If you wantto add or delete terms from the lease, you should discuss the idea with the Landlordor manager before signing the lease. Once the parties sign the lease, they are bound by its terms.
What if I did not receive a move in/out inspection?
Georgia lawrequires move-in and move-out inspections. Thoroughlyinspect the premises before signing the lease and providing a security deposit. The Landlord is required to give the Tenant alist of any damages to the rental unit—before the Tenant moves into the unit. This list must be signed by the Landlord andthe Tenant. Before signing, inspect the unitverify the accuracy of the list. If youdo not agree with everything on the list, you must specify in writing anyadditional damages on the list and then sign. You may also want to take pictures when you move in.
How long should I wait to receive my security deposit back?
The Landlordmust refund to the Tenant within thirty (30) days of the termination of thetenancy. If the Landlordplans to retain part of the security deposit, the Landlord must give writtenjustification for doing so and comply with the move-out inspection. The Landlord cannot charge Tenants forordinary wear and tear.
The securitydeposit and any statements which accompany it must be sent to the last knownaddress of the Tenant. If it is returnedas undeliverable and the Landlord is unable to locate the Tenant after areasonable effort, the security deposit becomes the property of the Landlordninety (90) days after it was mailed. This is why it is important to leave your Landlord a new address.
What if my landlord does not accept my orders or commanders memo to terminate my lease?
If your landlord is not allowing you terminate your lease and you provided all of the proper documentation come in to the Legal Assistance Office with your military id card and make an appointment so an attorney can review your case.
Georgia law (O.C.G.A. §44-7-22) allows a Servicemember to terminate a lease agreement with thirty (30) days’ written notice to the Landlord and a copy of military orders or a written verification signed by the Commanding Officer. A Servicemember can terminate a lease under this Georgia law if the Sercivemember:
Receives permanent change-of-station orders to a locationat least 35 miles away;
Receives temporary duty or state active duty orders to alocation at least 35 miles away from your rental premises for at least 60 days;
Is released from active duty, during which time he or shehad leased the property, and the home of record is at least 35 miles away;
Is ordered to move into government quarters;
Becomes eligible for government quarters and will forfeithousing allowance if he or she does not move in; or
Receives orders to an area 35 miles or more distant before taking possession of the property.
Our attorneys provide general legal advice on estate planning and prepare simple wills, simple testamentary trusts, living wills, advanced medical directives and powers of attorney. Complex estate planning needs, including inter vivos trusts, estates with property in a US territory or foreign country, or matters involving estates valued at over 1 million dollars will be referred out.
What are Will Wednesdays?
The Legal Assistance Office provide all estate planning services on a walk-in basis, every Wednesday. Walk-in Will Wednesdays have two sessions: morning (0900-1200) and afternoon (1300-1600). Walk-in will clients must arrive no later than 1000 to have sufficient time for their will to be completed during the morning session and no later than 1500 for the afternoon session. Clients arriving after 1000 or 1500 will need to be asked to return on another Wednesday session. Since clients are seen on a first come, first served basis, it is highly recommended that clients arrive promptly at the beginning of each session for the best chance of being seen that day. Deploying servicemembers are given priority on all Will Wednesdays. During times when the installation experiences a high volume of deploying servicemembers, non-deploying servicemembers, retirees and family members may be turned away to return on another Wednesday.
What documents do I need to bring with me on Will Wednesdays?
A complete will worksheet and bring your Military ID Card.
Click HERE to access the will worksheet.
How long will I have to wait on a Will Wednesday?
The wait time varies greatly depending on the volume of clients who come in for estate planning services each Wednesday. Please plan on your will taking at least 1.5 hours to allow for check in, waiting for an available attorney, your attorney consultation, and will execution. Normally, we are able to service all clients within each 3 hour session (morning 0900-1200 or afternoon 1300-1600). During peak deployment times, wait times can exceed 2 hours. During periods of high client volume or limited attorney availability, you may be turned away and asked to return at another time.
What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will you die "intestate."Each state has laws that determine how your property and bank accounts (your "estate") is distributed in the event of your death. Generally, if you are unmarried and have no children your entire estate will go to your parents if they are alive. If you are not survived by any parents, the estate will go to your siblings, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, then cousins. Only in the event of no surviving family member will the State receive your assets.If you are married or have children, generally the estate will go to your spouse and your children.
Our office provides a wide range of legal services under Army Regulation 27-3. Military administrative (Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss, OER and NCOER appeals, General Officer Memoranda of Reprimand rebuttals, Article 138 complaints, security clearances). These services will require an appointment. If you are having a legal issue with an upcoming suspense (example a FLIPL, GOMOR, or civilian court date), DO NOT wait to until the last minute to come into our office to make an appointment. Come as soon as you receive notice of the action or court date. We may not be able to assist you if you wait until the last minute to seek legal assistance.
How long should I wait to come see Legal Assistance for military administrative matters?
Many military administrative matters have a timing requirement and need to be responded to within a few days. If you have been notified of any adverse administrative action against you then you need to come see Legal Assistance immediately. This includes GOMORs and FLIPLs. Do not wait to come into the office because it may take some time for you to get supporting documents together to respond.
I just got a DUI, does that mean I'm going to get a GOMOR?
Army and local policy require that Soldiers who have a DUI receive a GOMOR.
What is a GOMOR?
A GOMOR is a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand. A reprimand becomes a GOMOR in one of two ways:
1) A General Officer signs a memorandum reprimanding a Soldier or;
2) A General Officer directs that a reprimand be filed in a Soldier's Official Military Personnel File (OMPF).
My chain of command told me I'm going to receive a GOMOR, what do I do?
There are many reasons why you might receive a GOMOR and most GOMORs are unique. There is no good way to provide general advice. Promptly come in to the office and inquire at the front desk about making an appointment.
I received a FLIPL for some equipment that I signed for. Does this mean I am automatically liable and have to pay for it?
No. There are many factors that go into accessing liability for a FLIPL and just because you have signed a hand receipt for equipment does not mean that you are automatically required to pay for it. Bring the DD 200 and all accompanying paperwork to the Legal Assistance Office and one of our attorneys will sit down with you and go over what you may or may not be liable for.
What is the maximum amount I can be found liable for on a FLIPL?
Generally, the assessment of liability for a FLIPL is limited to one month's base pay in the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
I have been notified that my Security Clearance has been revoked, what can I do?
There are many reasons your security clearance may be revoked. You have the ability to submit a written response rebutting the revocation of your security clearance before it becomes effective. Bring all paperwork to the Legal Assistance Office and we will have an attorney go over your situation and how to respond to the revocation of your security clearance.
Special Victim Counsel Program
The Special Victim Counsel (SVC) is a licensed attorney in the Judge Advocate General's Corps who represents victims of sex-related offenses throughout the duration of the Military Justice or administrative process. The SVC works exclusively for the victim, not for the Army or any other person, organization, or entity.
What is a Special Victim Counsel?
If the victim requests an SVC, the SVC will work with the victim to aid in understanding the legal proceedings or administrative actions in the case and represent the victim at all times during a courts-martial. The SVC can accompany the victim to all interviews with the investigators, the Prosecutor, or Defense Counsel. The SVC can also provide legal assistance services as needed.
How can I find our more information about receiving services from a Special Victim Counsel?
For more information, contact your Sexual Assault ResponseCoordinator (SARC) or Victim Advocate. You may also contact the LegalAssistance Office at 912-767-8819 and ask to speak to the Chief of Legal Assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for legal assistance?
Per regulation, the following persons are eligible to receive legal assistance:
•Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members.
•Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members.
•Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forceswho are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance).
•Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5.
•Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.
What legal services do you provide?
Our office provides a wide range of legal services under Army Regulation 27-3. Powers of attorney and notaries are available on a walk-in basis during all office hours. Our attorneys assist clients with many areas of practice including family law (divorce, paternity, support, adoption), real and personal property (landlord tenant, housing), consumer law (debt collection, garnishment, SCRA), civilian administrative (name changes, immigration and naturalization), military administrative (Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss, OER and NCOER appeals, General Officer Memoranda of Reprimand rebuttals, Article 138 complaints, security clearances). Estate planning services (wills, health care directives, durable powers of attorney) are offered every Wednesday on a walk-in basis. Most other Legal Assistance services require an attorney appointment.
What legal services do you not provide?
We cannot go to court with you. In addition, under Army Regulation 27-3, the following are types of cases in which legal assistance is either not authorized or only offers limited services: military justice matters (Trial Defense Services represents servicemembers in military justice matters), private business activities, civil litigation, claims against the United States, civilian criminal matters including traffic tickets, employment matters (except those involving enforcement of USERRA), torts, contingent legal fee cases, prepaid legal representation cases, standards of conduct issues, and complex estate planning.
What is a Power of Attorney and when would I need one?
A Power of Attorney (“POA”) is a legal document that you canmake to give authority to another person to act on your behalf. There are three (3) types of POAs: (1)General POA; (2) Special/Specific POA; and (3) Health Care POA.
A General POA allows aperson to give broad powers to a person or organization to act on his or herbehalf. The powers may include, but are not limited to, handling financial andbusiness transactions, settling claims, and/or filing taxes.
A Special/Specific POAallows a person to specify exactly what powers an agent may exercise on his orher behalf. These powers may include selling property and/or managing realestate.
A Health Care POA grants a person’s agent the authority to make medicaldecisions for him or her if he or she is unconscious, mentally incompetent, orotherwise unable to make decisions on his or her own.
A POA may be needed when a Soldier is deploying or if theSoldier, and/or his or her family, believes there may be unforeseen eventsoccurring in the future that would require someone else to act on his or herbehalf. It is important that the person you are giving authority tois someone you trust. Legal Assistance can help you tailor your POA exactly howyou wish.
What information is provided over the phone?
We provide general legal information over the telephone. We cannot provide legal advice or make appointments over the phone.
How do I make an appointment?
Appointments must be made in person at the Fort Stewart Legal Assistance Office, Building 709, 1791 Gulick Avenue, Fort Stewart, GA 31314. Clients must bring a valid military ID card with a DOD ID number.
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
Wait times can vary, but appointments are typically available within two weeks of making an appointment.
What if I need to see an attorney today?
There are very few legal issues that we are able to assist you with that require seeing an attorney immediately or on the same day. If you notify our front desk that you must see an attorney immediately, an attorney will speak with you to evaluate your situation and determine whether a same day appointment is necessary. If you are having a legal issue with an upcoming suspense (example a FLIPL, GOMOR, or civilian court date), do not wait to until the last minute to come into our office to make an appointment. Come as soon as you receive notice of the action or court date. We may not be able to assist you if you wait until the last minute to seek legal assistance.
What if I am located in Florida and need legal assistance?
If you are located far away from our office, you can receive assistance at any legal assistance office (Army, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard) in your area. We also provide limited legal assistance services in Army military administrative matters to Soldiers located in Florida or outside the greater Fort Stewart area. If you call or email our office and are determined to be eligible for services, we may be able to assist you remotely with your defense in military administrative matters over the telephone and email. Please call or email our office for more information.
When is a Family Care Plan needed?
A Family Care Plan is mandatory under AR 600-20, paragraph5-5, when:
(1) a Soldier has a child or children and no spouse;
(2) a Soldierhas a child or children, has a spouse, but is not living with the spouse; and
(3) the family is dual military. If arequired Soldier does not have a Family Care Plan, the Army may separate theSoldier under AR 635-200, paragraph 5-8.
What is the Military Lending Act?
The Military Lending Act (“MLA”) is a program that provides certain protections in lending for service members who are called to Active Duty. The MLA standards affect (1) Payday Loans; (2) Vehicle title; (3) refund anticipation, deposit advance, and installment loans (4) unsecured open-end lines of credit; and (5) credit cards.
The MLA caps financial products’ interest at 36%, which is called the Military Annual Percentage Rate (“MAPR”). The MLA Rule makes it so that banks will no longer: require service members to submit to mandatory arbitration and tedious legal requirements; require Soldiers to waive their Service members Civil Relief Act rights; require Soldiers to provide a payroll allotment; allow continual refinance of a payday loan; allows institutions to obtain a post-dated check; and allows institutions to access a bank account or a car title.
These new rules are intended to help Service members, but it is strongly recommended that all Service members become better educated about the types of credit he or she can receive.
Walk-in Will Wednesday!
Every Wednesday, Wills and other Estate Planning Services are available on a first come, first serve, walk-in basis starting at 9 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. See Estate Planning section for more details.