Card image cap

Family Law and Military Families

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 204 minutes
Recorded Date: October 26, 2021
Click here to share this program
Printer-Friendly Version
Closed Caption


  • Military Pension Division: Crossing the Minefield
  • Child Custody, Visitation, and Enforcement Impacting LGBTQ Military Families
  • Family Law and the SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act)
Runtime: 3 hours, 24 minutes
Recorded: October 26, 2021

For NY - Difficulty Level: For experienced attorneys only (non-transitional)


This program focuses on a wide-range of family law matters in military families, including military pension division and Survivor Benefit Plan coverage in divorces, child custody and visitation matters, LGBTQ issues, along with how the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) applies to family law cases. This program is designed for military attorneys working in legal assistance, as well as civilian lawyers whose practices involve military-connected clients or issues.

This program was recorded on October 26th, 2021.

Provided By

American Bar Association
Card image cap


Card image cap

Brenda M. Maloney Shafer

Partner, National Vice-Chair, Health Law Practice Group
Quarles & Brady LLP

Brenda Maloney Shafer focuses her practice on health care regulatory, compliance, and transactional matters for a wide variety of providers, including pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers, and drug wholesalers; hospitals and physician groups; and long-term care facilities. A particular area of focus is counseling clients regarding compliance with the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

Her time as a United States Army Nurse Corps officer gives Brenda a unique perspective on the challenges of health care, further informing how she guides her clients through the full range of legal and business challenges they face.

Card image cap

Mark E. Sullivan, COL, USA (Ret.)

Founding Attorney
Law Offices of Mark E. Sullivan, P.A.,

Mark E. Sullivan is the principal of Law Offices of Mark E. Sullivan, P.A. in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has limited his trial practice to family law since 1981 and has been certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Family Law Specialist since 1989. He is a former vice-chair of the Family Law Section, North Carolina Bar Association, and a former president of the North Carolina Chapter, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Mr. Sullivan is a retired Army Reserve JAG colonel (34 years of commissioned service), and is the author of The Military Divorce Handbook, (ABA, 3rd Ed. 2019).

He was co-founder of the military committee of the North Carolina State Bar in 1981, and he has been a member of the committee or its director ever since. He is a past chair of the Military Committee of the ABA Family Law Section, and served on the ABA Working Group for the Protection of the Rights of Servicemembers in 2002-2003. He received the American Bar Association’s Grassroots Advocacy Award in 2014 for his work on military custody in helping to write the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act and getting military custody legislation enacted in over twenty states. He was a member of the Department of Defense panel of experts on revising the Former Spouses’ Protection Act in 1997.

Mark Sullivan advises and assists fellow attorneys from across the country in drafting military pension division orders, deciding on the Survivor Benefit Plan, and resolving other military divorce issues. He has been accepted as an expert for military pension division for oral testimony in cases in eight states, and was recognized as a national expert in military pension division in a 2011 Minnesota Court of Appeals decision. He has been cited in at least eight appellate/supreme court decisions in at least seven different states besides North Carolina. He has prepared military pension division orders for fellow attorneys in over 33 states.

He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Town & Country Magazine, Law Weekly USA and The Raleigh News & Observer, and has had articles published in the American Journal of Family Law, Family Law Quarterly, Family Advocate, The Military Law Review, the Army Lawyer, Family Advocate, and The Practical Lawyer. Mark has written over 100 articles on the subjects of military pension division and Survivor Benefit Plan for a dozen or more periodicals published by State Bar family law sections across the country.

Mr. Sullivan is the editor of “Family Law Practice and Procedure Manual” (NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2000), and he has written numerous articles on trial advocacy, negotiating techniques, the use of computers, and the practice of family law. He is a frequent speaker at military and family law programs and at the Army JAG School and the Naval Justice School.

Mr. Sullivan is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Family Law Sections of the North Carolina Bar Association and the American Bar Association, the Judge Advocates Association, and the Reserve Officers Association. In September, 2000, he was certified by the AAML as a family law arbitrator.

Mr. Sullivan’s book, The Military Divorce Handbook, was published in its 3rd Edition in 2019 by the American Bar Association. It is now in two volumes with over 1200 pages, covering issues such as child support, military pension division, taxes, domestic abuse and custody/visitation.

Card image cap

Patricia Apy

Paras, Apy & Reiss, P.C.

Patricia E. Apy has developed a practice which is primarily focused on international and interstate family law. She has directed the international litigation of child custody disputes throughout the world, serving clients in a wide range of cases in signatory countries and non-signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Her expertise ranges from crafting enforceable, multi-jurisdictional agreements to managing complex international parental abduction matters, implicating international treaty law and global law enforcement. Among the many countries in which she has litigated, been qualified as an expert witness or served as a consultant on international family disputes, are locations as diverse as the United Kingdom, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Pakistan, Australia, India, Japan, South Africa, Israel, Lebanon and Canada.

Within the United States, she has participated in numerous reported decisions in the United States Courts of Appeals and District Courts. She is frequently sought out by both family law attorneys and litigants nationwide to serve as an expert co-counsel in their own state courts on international matters.

Of note, she successfully represented the left-behind father, David Goldman in the repatriation of his minor son from Brazil, a case garnering worldwide attention to the application of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

As a result of this work, and her consultation to both the United States Department of State, Department of Defense and Members of Congress, she enjoys strong relationships with diplomats and colleagues worldwide who provide additional resource in serving her private clients. She has testified three times before the Congress of the United States, specifically, before subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on proposed legislation regarding international parental abduction; and before subcommittees of the House Veteran’s affairs committee on proposed legislation regarding child custody and military members.

Ms. Apy argued the first case in the United States addressing the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Minors before the Supreme Court of New Jersey in Ivaldi v. Ivaldi,147 N.J. 190, 685 A. 2d 1319 (1996). Her familiarity with that Treaty began with her service on the United States delegation that participated in its drafting. She has served at the Hague Conference in the Netherlands, as both an attorney advisor and a delegate to the United States delegation in 1995 on the preliminary negotiations of the Maintenance Convention involving international agreements for the enforcement of family support obligations. Most recently she returned in June of 2010 to represent the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, reviewing the work of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, with an emphasis on the problems of child trafficking.

She is experienced in the impact and importance of religious law and practice to the resolution of child custody and matrimonial disputes, particularly in the international arena. She has represented clients in which the application of Halakha (Jewish religious law); Shari’a (Islamic personal status law) and the Hindu Marriage Act (India) have been of significant concern in litigation and approaches those concerns with sensitivity, insight and respect.

Ms. Apy is a frequent teacher, lecturer and commentator on the complex legal issues arising from international family law. She serves as guest faculty at the Judge Advocate General School of the United States Army at the University of Virginia; the United States Naval Justice School; and the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General School on issues of advanced family law, treaty law, and the implications of military service. She has authored proposed legislation to amend the child custody law of the State of New Jersey to enhance protections for deployed military parents, for which she received the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Legislative Service Award in 2010.

She has remained an active member of the State and local bar associations, and a leader in the American Bar Association in her field. She served as the chair of the International law and procedures committee of the Family law section of the ABA for over a decade. From 2001 to 2008, she served as a member of the Legal Assistance for Military Personnel Committee of the ABA, and was specially appointed to an ABA Presidential Working Group addressing the unmet legal needs of military members. She has been a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for over a decade. She has contributed articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Family Law Quarterly of the American Bar Association, the Family Advocate of the ABA and the Georgetown Journal on Fighting Poverty. Her written work has focused on the support of the rule of law and its application to family law around the world.

Ms. Apy’s academic background supports her commitment to approaching each case with scholarship, intuition and discernment. She received her legal education at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, Ohio, receiving a Juris Doctorate Degree in 1986. She has taken continuing legal education at the Harvard Law School Islamic Legal Studies Program on issues of Islamic law and marriage. In addition to her law degree, she holds a Masters Degree in Social Work, with a clinical concentration in Family and Children which she received in 1983 from the University of Missouri – Columbia, School of Public Service. She began her college studies at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Community Organization and Human Rights.

Ms. Apy is committed to assisting clients in the preservation of their families and care of their children while they may be facing the challenges of separation and divorce, wherever they may be living. See Ms. Apy’s press coverage.

Card image cap

Similar Courses

Card image cap
59 minutes
Alternatives to Litigation: Mediation and Creative Settlements
Property claims often involve multiple parties, emotive issues and significant brinkmanship all of which lead to protracted litigation, significant cost, and delay in resolution. While the numerous types of disputes involved in property losses require the ability to be flexible, very often, they have common themes and would benefit greatly from the narrowing of issues, at the earliest possible stage, which traditional litigation rarely promotes. Creativity and ADR can significantly help in the process.

Property Casualty 360


Add to Cart
Card image cap
60 minutes
Cannabis in the Workplace: Workers' Comp and Employee Use
This seminar will look at a number of issues related to the use of medical marijuana for workers’ comp injuries, considerations and coverage questions for insurers, provide answers for employers on applying drug policies and look at other risks for employees, employers and insurers in the workplace.

Property Casualty 360


Add to Cart
Card image cap
53 minutes
Conservatorship Criteria in Context: The Britney Spears Case
The Britney Spears conservatorship case has brought a lot of attention to the Conservatorships and Guardianship laws throughout the country. In this program, Dr. Brian Russell uses his expertise to provde some useful legal context to the case, provide lawyers with a better understanding of where the pitfalls are and how they can do right by their clients.

Dr. Brian Russell


Add to Cart
Card image cap
58 minutes
Cross-Border Employment Issues During Turbulent Time
While very similar from a commercial standpoint, Canadian and U.S. laws differ in important respects when it comes to employment issues. Appreciating these differences is critical when advising clients on their entry to Canada (a typical launching point for U.S. companies seeking to expand globally) or their existing Canadian operations to avoid unintended consequences. This roundtable will provide a Canadian employment law 101 overview.

Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference


Add to Cart
Previous Next