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A Helping Hand

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

A participant in the Family Law section shares her VLP experience.

I was in desperate need of a Parenting Plan for my son, and my son's father was fighting me every step of the way. He filed document after document until I was buried under a mountain of accusations that were so wild I didn't even know where to begin. My trial was quickly approaching, and it was obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn't afford a lawyer because I am low income, so my aunt recommended that I call the CLEAR program.

CLEAR connected me to the Volunteer Lawyers Program, and I was able to set up an appointment.

The first time I met with the volunteer was the first time in a long time that I felt hope, and I knew I would make it through this.

She spent hours helping me get all of my paperwork in order, preparing me for what to expect, and coaching me on how to represent myself at trial. She answered any and all questions no matter how silly they may have been.

After the trial, I was a nervous wreck. The verdict came back with issues in the way the Parenting Plan was worded, and it restricted my ability to relocate. The Parenting Plan stated that if I wanted to remain the custodial parent of my son, he could not to sleep the night out of the district of his elementary school on school nights and that we must reside at an address within those boundaries. Because this goes against the relocation act, the volunteer was able to help me file the paper necessary to ask the judge for a reconsideration.

Again, she spent hours with me and worked very hard to insure it was done quickly and correctly. At the same time, I was taken to court for contempt where I was accused of wrongfully withholding my son from his father. The volunteer came to my contempt hearing to support me while I argued that I lived where I did and that I had done nothing wrong. It was decided that I was not in contempt, but the reconsideration was denied by the judge. The next step for me would be to appeal the Parenting Plan. The VLP doesn't handle the appeal process, so the volunteer spent her valuable time searching the city for a lawyer who would represent me.

She was able to find me someone who was willing to represent me, and because I am low income, the attorney reduced their normal rate for me. We are still in the appeal process, but I remain optimistic because of the hard work and dedication of the volunteer and the help of the VLP. I can't say thank you enough for sticking with me and helping me through a very tough time. Who knows where I would be without your help!

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