Military Legal Resources Available to You

Paralegal notarizes a legal document

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

When legal issues arise, service members and their families have a number of free resources at the ready. Legal assistance is available whether you need an expert to review a contract or help with estate planning. If you need to finalize deployment-related legal documents, legal assistance can help. You can also get advice on mediation for child custody. Here are some of your options.

Free legal help from the legal assistance office

Your installation’s legal assistance office can serve you in many situations where you may need legal advice. They may also help in completing legal documents. Representation in court is not available for service members or family members. However, active and retired service members and family members are eligible for free legal assistance, including:

  • Drafting powers of attorney
  • Drafting wills
  • Guiding estate planning
  • Providing family law advice (in areas such as adoption, marriage, divorce, alimony and property division)
  • Reviewing contracts and leases
  • Providing notary services
  • Offering consumer advice (ranging from debt management and credit reporting to ID theft)
  • Helping with taxes
  • Assisting in immigration and naturalization issues
  • Advising in civil lawsuits
  • Protecting service member rights and responsibilities
  • Advising clients on misdemeanors and minor traffic offenses

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers help with a range of rights and benefits, from interest rate reductions to eviction protection. Know your rights and available perks.

For document translation services, contact Military OneSource Specialty Consultations. You can get help translating a lease during an overseas move, or with documents such as a birth certificate or marriage license. Call a Military OneSource consultant at 800-342-9647 for document translation or legal matters.

Where legal assistance offices cannot help

There are other issues where legal assistance offices won’t be able to assist. They include:

  • Providing legal advice to third parties or opposing parties on the same issue
  • Claims against the government and serious criminal matters
  • Legal matters concerning your privately owned business
  • In-court representation (although legal assistance attorneys generally do not represent clients in court, some service branches offer the Expanded Legal Assistance Program, which allows for in-court representation in limited cases). See below for help finding a private civilian lawyer.

Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator to find the nearest legal assistance office.

Help with other legal matters: private lawyers, military defense counsel

For criminal matters or other issues not available through your installation’s legal assistance office, you’ll most likely want to consider a private civilian attorney. If you’re facing discharge or criminal prosecution by the military, you can seek assistance from military defense counsel.

Seeking nonmilitary counsel: Services provided within a legal assistance office are free. You may also need to pay for private civilian counsel. If so, ask your legal assistance attorney if your case qualifies for pro bono or reduced fee representation. If not, ask about private civilian legal representation available in your community.

Seeking military defense counsel: Military defense counsels are legal offices separate from your local legal assistance office, and are available if you are facing prosecution by the military. As a service member, you have the right to be represented at your court-martial.

Military defense counsels are certified judge advocates who provide independent legal representation and confidential legal advice for service members suspected of an offense or facing adverse administrative actions.

Military defense counsel can help you in many situations, including pretrial investigations, investigations, and administrative separation proceedings. They can also help with letters of reprimand, denial or revocation of a security clearance, and court-martial proceedings.

Each of the service branches has a different name for the defense counsel offices:

Find the contact information for your nearest defense counsel in your installation telephone directory. Your installation trial defense service office, defense services office or area defense counsel office may have a local website with helpful information.

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

Obtaining and Renewing Military ID and Common Access Cards During COVID-19

Hands passing ID card

Current as of Sept. 16, 2020


Department of Defense Commitment

The DOD is committed to protecting the nation’s security as well as your safety and that of your family. This includes temporarily updating issuance and renewal processes for ID cards and CACs to ensure your continued access to health care and other benefits during this time of increased precaution and restrictions.

Your military benefits, like access to commissaries and exchanges and health care, tie into your military identification card. With current stay-at-home orders in place in most areas because of coronavirus disease 2019, you may be wondering how military ID, Common Access Card and Volunteer Logical Access Credentials issuance and renewal will work.

Review the following details to learn about the temporary updates (in place through June 30, 2021) that change issuance and renewal processes during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Renewing military ID cards (expiring on or after Jan. 1, 2020)

The DOD has expanded online ID card renewals and reissuances, enrollment and eligibility updates, and replacement of lost or stolen cards for military and their family members through June 30, 2021. Other updates continuing through June 30, 2021, include:

  • Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance or schedule an appointment to renew your ID card or get a replacement if it is lost or stolen. Note that cards that are remotely issued from online application will have an expiration date of one year from the date of issuance.
  • Use your ID card if you are a mobilized reserve member, so you can continue to receive active-duty benefits for yourself and your eligible family members.
  • Use your ID card if your eligibility has not changed, and your ID is due to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020. Your benefits are secure through June 30, 2021.
  • Do not use your ID card if your eligibility has ended. The DOD will verify your eligibility electronically before taking away an expired ID card with an expiration date on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

If your status is listed in the Individuals column of the following chart, you are eligible to continue using your current military ID while you take the step(s) noted to renew your ID card that is set to expire on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

Individuals Impact to Benefits Steps to Take
Sponsors and dependents turning age 65 You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B for continued benefits.
  1. Check milConnect to see whether Medicare Part B has been reported.
  2. Contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment in Medicare Part B
Dependents turning age 21 You must be enrolled as a full-time student, be approved as an incapacitated dependent or be registered for TRICARE Young Adult for continued eligibility.
  1. Students, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2, indicating that sponsor is providing more than 50% support
    2. Proof of enrollment as a full-time student
  2. Incapacitated dependents, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Medical Sufficiency Statement
    3. Financial Dependency Determination
  3. TRICARE Young Adult, contact your nearest RAPIDS site for assistance and have the following ready:
    1. Completed DD Form 1172-2
    2. Proof of enrollment in TRICARE Young Adult
Guard and reserve members and dependents Benefits for National Guard and reserve members and their dependents are tied to the member’s active-duty status. If the member’s active-duty status is extended, benefits are extended as well.
  1. If active-duty status is extended, no action is needed.
  2. If active-duty status is completed:
    1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.
Retiring service members and dependents Benefits for members who are retiring and their dependents are tied to the member’s status.
  1. Must enroll in TRICARE Select online.

Life Happens: Legal Assistance and Paperwork for Service Members and Families

Uniformed service member completes a legal doc

You know the drill: paperwork comes with the military. It also comes into play for legal protections — in your professional and personal life. Hassles can arise when something happens and you don’t have your paperwork in order.

At other times in life, you may need more than guidance on legal paperwork. You may need a military lawyer for advice or representation. Military OneSource can help connect you to the legal assistance you require. Call 800-342-9647.

Organize Your Life: Legal Paperwork Helps Prevent Mishaps

There are some legal documents every service member — and citizen — should have:

Last will and testament. A will lets you decide what happens to your family, property and belongings when you pass. Otherwise, the courts will decide for you, and likely impose a fee for doing so. If you have a will, consider updating it based on your family’s current needs. When writing a will, you may want to consider planning for what happens to your property – real estate, investments, social security, cash, life insurance and business interests – after your death. This is called estate planning.

Power of attorney. This document lets you name a trusted person who can act on your behalf on legal or money matters while you’re deployed or otherwise unable to. The document allows this person to bank, buy or sell property and make other transactions for you.

Living will. With a living will, you can declare ahead of time which medical treatment you want—or don’t want—if you suffer a serious injury or illness and can’t speak for yourself. It also lets you select someone to make such decisions when you can’t.

When Life Gets Messy: Know Your Legal Options

Sometimes things happen in life and you need legal help. You can contact your legal assistance office for more information on many issues, including the following.

Divorce. Normally, divorce is governed by state and local laws and procedures. But being in the military can present some additional legal issues. These can range from affecting military benefits like housing to supporting family members upon separation. Understand your rights and obligations.

Child custody and adoption. Legal assistance can be helpful in several situations involving children. Examples: Preparing a family care plan can help provide direction to the person caring for your children when you deploy. If you adopt a child in another country, be aware of the follow-on adoption legal process when you return stateside.

Other legal matters. There are a range of other issues — from reporting crimes to alcohol and drug offenses — where you’ll need legal assistance or representation. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator to find the nearest legal assistance office.

You can seek assistance from military defense counsel if you’re facing administrative discharge or criminal prosecution by the military. Military defense counsel are certified judge advocates who provide independent legal representation and confidential legal advice for service members suspected of an offense or facing adverse administrative actions.