Sandra’s child was just a toddler when she separated from her abusive husband and filed for custody and an order of protection. The court consolidated these matters into an Integrated Domestic Violence Court, where she was assigned counsel. Sandra then filed for child support, which was heard separately. She navigated that litigation on her own. Sandra was awarded child support, but believed the amount ordered was less that her husband would have been required to pay had all his income been disclosed. She knew that he hid information about his business from the court and artificially decreased his income, but was unable to prove it on her own.
When the husband stopped paying child support, the mother filed a violation petition. Sandra’s husband evaded service, so Sandra filed several petitions, each of which was dismissed. Finally, Sandra contacted Her Justice for help. Her Justice matched the client with a pro bono attorney who was able to convince the court to accept mail service of the child support petition; this along with a notice of warrant compelled the husband to appear in court.
The pro bono attorney then represented the mother in a proceeding to enforce and increase (modify) the order of child support, engaging in extensive discovery to prove that the husband earned more than he was claiming and had fewer expenses than he had presented in the initial case.
Sandra had hoped to file for divorce but was advised to wait for the custody and child support enforcement/modification matters to be resolved. She describes navigating the courts as a “nightmare” given the burden of missing work because of unnecessary delays, caring for the child, and shouldering most of the financial burden for the child, including childcare. She says she doesn’t “understand why everything is isolated even though it’s together.”