Practice alerts

September 2014

REVISED Family Violence Forms

The Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority has posted the revised Family Violence Protective Order forms on its website.  These new forms can be found at

The latest discussion revolves around survivors who need copies of their TPOs with the protected party information to provide to schools or other agencies.  (Law enforcement would have access through the Registry.)  When custody is awarded to a survivor this information will be in the body of the signed order.  However, if a TPO protects a child, who is not the subject of a custody award (perhaps the abuser is not the legal father), then that child’s name may only be in the Protected Party information that is removed from the TPO after it is sent to the Registry.  A solution may be to put that child’s name in the last "catchall” paragraph of the Order.  But if it’s not there, the survivor may need to provide that information to the school or day care, so she might need  a copy of the order, including the last page that’s not in the public file.

Therefore, you should make sure that your client gets a signed or certified copy of the Protective Order before the Clerk sends it to the Registry and removes the protected party information.  We should also keep complete copies of signed orders in our files in the event the client needs the full order at some time in the future.  In the event a client needs a copy of the complete signed order in the future and can’t find a copy, we should also be able to file a motion to the court to “unseal” the identifying information to provide a copy to the Petitioner.  The confidentiality statute is to protect identifying information being released to the public, not to the parties.

New Rules on Veterans with a less then "Honorable Discharge"

“ As you meet with your clients who are also veterans, please note that the VA has announced a policy change for veterans – OF ANY ERA – who received any discharge other than an “honorable” discharge.  

The Secretary of Defense announced September 3 that the Defense Department would now consider service-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when considering a veteran’s petition to upgrade their discharge status.  The policy applies to veterans of any era who received a less than honorable discharge from service and subsequently received a documented diagnosis of PTSD. The new policy developed because of attention paid to petitions from Vietnam veterans seeking to upgrade their discharge status based on previously unrecognized PTSD. In these cases, PTSD was not recognized as a diagnosis at the time of service and, in many cases, diagnoses were not made until many years after service was completed. 

Service members who have received a less than honorable discharge can be denied access to many of the benefits they should otherwise be eligible to receive – including potential eligibility for a wide range of VA benefits like medical care, service connected compensation, non-service connected pensions – in addition to affecting employment and some housing opportunities. The various military review boards are being asked to liberally consider petitions for changes in discharge status for veterans who have PTSD, and to waive the typical 15 year time limit in these cases.

So, if a veteran files a petition for a discharge upgrade and is successful, the results to that veteran and his or her family could be substantial.”

All veterans should now be advised to talk to their attorney or VA service organization representative to request an upgrade, even if outside the 15 year time limit.  Again, this applies to veterans of any era.  I am providing some links below.

- See more at:

October 2014

Beyond the Basics of Health Reform

In preparation for renewal of 2014 health insurance coverage and open enrollment for coverage year 2015, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is presenting a four-part Beyond the Basics of Health Reform refresher course, which will provide an overview of the Affordable Care Act, eligibility for coverage programs, policies and processes for enrolling into and renewing coverage, and plan design.  The first webinar in this series will take place on Thursday, October 9, at 2 pm Eastern (11 am Pacific), and the series will continue with webinars on October 16, 23, and 30, all at 2 pm Eastern (11 am Pacific).
Please note that space is limited.  This webinar series is intended for those working on the implementation of health reform including navigators, assisters, CACs and others assisting consumers apply for coverage in a Marketplace.
Go to this link for Webinar descriptions and registration:   We have found CBPP’s presentations to be clear and helpful.