From Crisis to Stability

While out one day, Beverly saw her cousin Tammy on the street. Tammy was visibly pregnant, homeless, and suffering from a drug addiction. Remembering her own past struggles with drugs, Beverly took Tammy into her home. She kept Tammy sober and fed during the final month of her pregnancy. Tammy gave birth to a healthy baby girl, but her addiction was too strong. She promptly left her baby with Beverly, returning to the streets and back to drugs. Beverly didn’t want this baby entering the foster care system like so many other children of addicts. Beverly instead went to court and obtained guardianship.  But when Beverly tried to file for adoption, she ran into difficulty. Like many others who try to go it alone for lack of resources, Beverly got the paperwork wrong.  And her past was coming back to haunt her. Learning of Beverly’s prior drug use, the court’s investigator was expressing reservations about Beverly’s history that could keep her from adopting the baby.

Levitt & Quinn’s Legal Services Director, Lucia Reyes, helped Beverly to correctly complete her court papers. Lucia made sure that each birth parent received notice of the case, and obtained their consent for Beverly to complete the adoption. Lucia helped Beverly gather letters of recommendation from those who have known her in sobriety, improving her chances at a favorable outcome. With Levitt & Quinn’s expert help, the court had everything it needed to grant the adoption. Despite her fears, Beverly’s 8 years of sobriety and her good deeds were enough to show the court that she would provide a loving future for this little girl. Read more client stories here.

A Commitment to Family

“George” is only 21 years old. Yet in his short adult life, he has chosen to assume an awesome responsibility. Three years ago, George’s mother died, leaving in his care the two young children she adopted after a family member lost custody of them. At the tender age of 18, George went into court to become the legal guardian of his younger brother and sister.
George wants to ensure long-term stability for his siblings, now ages 11 and 12, by becoming their legal parent.  The foster funds that George’s mother received to care for the family were cut off when she passed away. George has spent three years struggling to raise the children on just his income. But that can change with the right legal support. Levitt & Quinn attorneys are helping  George file for adoption, which not only will give the children the legal parent they deserve, but will hopefully reinstate the foster care funds that will give this young family the financial stability it needs.

A Father’s Journey

When Robert first arrived at Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center in spring of 2014, he was distraught over not having seen his two-year old son Damion in over eight months. At that time, Damion’s mother was ignoring all of his efforts to make contact, and Robert was unsure if he would ever see his son again. Robert felt lost and alone in a seemingly endless loop of confusing court procedures, packets of paperwork and hearings. Levitt & Quinn helped Robert to navigate the legal labyrinth that he faced, and succeeded in arranging visits with Damion that year. Throughout 2015 and 2016, Robert came back to Levitt & Quinn multiple times, fiercely determined to expand his role in his son’s life. By drafting the necessary paperwork and standing with him in court multiple times, Levitt & Quinn supported Robert’s endeavor to grow his relationship with his young son. Through a combination of his perseverance and the professional support of the Levitt & Quinn legal team, Robert now has court orders in place that give Damion equal time with both his parents.
This success story happened because of the critical legal support that Robert received from the family law professionals at Levitt & Quinn. For many fathers like Robert, who lives on $1,200 a month, this access to justice is not possible. Nearly 80% of all family law cases in Los Angeles County have at least one party without a lawyer. Those without counsel struggle to understand what is expected of them, and are often unprepared or unable to give the court the critical information it needs to make decisions in a child’s best interest . Without support, the Roberts of our community continue to slip through the wide cracks in our justice system, and our children suffer.

A Family Stays Together

All too often, when a client arrives at Levitt & Quinn’s office, it is in a state of desperation. This was the case for Miguel*, a loving father who had raised all three of his children for their entire lives. Midway through a lengthy divorce and custody battle, his wife filed a motion claiming that the youngest children were not Miguel’s biological children and asking the court to name a second man as the children’s father. The allegation rocked Miguel – at the time of filing he was the primary custodial parent of all three children.
At the heart of 80% of Levitt & Quinn’s cases is a child, and for a family in crisis like Miguel’s, our attorneys seek child-centered outcomes in service of justice. Miguel’s commitment to his children was strong, despite what any blood test might reveal. In court, Levitt & Quinn successfully defended against his wife’s attempt to introduce another other man into the case, and into the children’s lives. Miguel was able to remain the primary custodial parent of his three children, and was elated to have found the help he needed to keep his family together.

Of Service

Sam*, a US Army veteran, came to Levitt & Quinn for help with a problem he could not fix on his own. Prior to and during his military service, Sam consistently paid his court-ordered child support and had regular contact with his daughter. Then while he was deployed overseas, the court changed Sam’s child support obligation without his knowledge. To make matters worse, Sam lost access to his daughter and learned that the court did not credit him for his past child support payments. As a result, Sam faced losing his relationship with his child and a wage garnishment he could not afford. Sam tried to file court papers from overseas, but nothing he did worked. When Sam returned from serving his country, he found himself burdened with almost $20,000 in child support arrears and cut off from access to his daughter.

Levitt & Quinn stood with Sam in court, successfully representing him at multiple hearings to erase his arrears balance, get him credit for a $5,000 over payment, and renew his regular contact with his daughter. Sam was elated by the outcome, and grateful that Levitt & Quinn was there to help him achieve justice.

*Not Client’s Real Name

A Child’s Best Interest

Thirteen years ago, Jill* came to Levitt & Quinn for help with a dissolutionwhen her daughter Abigail was just two years old. Jill has had primary custody of her young daughter since that time. Over the years, Jill and her ex-husband have experienced a more and more contentious co-parenting relationship. As a result, matters ended up back in the courtroom on several occasions, and recently Abigail’s father demanded primary custody. Jill returned to Levitt & Quinn for help. Her very low income qualified her for the Kids Fund’s free services, and attorney Jenny Skoble represented her in court.

Following that hearing, at a court-ordered evaluation, Jill became convinced that the best course of action might be  to agree to Abigail spending more time with her father. Abigail’s father responded positively to Jill’s willingness to consider the shift, and both parents decided to have lunch together and discuss their need for better communication. They then returned to the evaluation and, without need for a court hearing, signed an agreement in which Jill retains primary custody and Abigail spends more time with her father. The end result is less contentious co-parenting and less stress for Abigail. In Los Angeles, over 80% of people in family law court go unrepresented when addressing issues greatly impacting their children’s lives. The feeling of vulnerability caused by facing these issues alone can lead to clouded judgment and make it difficult to focus on the children involved in the case. Feeling secure with an attorney at her side allowed Jill to focus on her daughter’s best interests, and her daughter’s father followed her lead.

*not client’s real name.

A Father’s Journey

Late last fall, a father came to Levitt & Quinn devastated. Mike* hadn’t seen his five-year-old daughter for three years because the child’s mother had been keeping her from him, and he no longer even knew where or with whom she lived. Unable to afford a private attorney, Mike went to court several times on his own. He managed to get an order for temporary custody, but not an order requiring the District Attorney to help him locate his child.  Instead, the court ruled that he had not done enough to find the mother. He had no ideas or resources for continuing his three year long search for his daughter.

 When he came to Levitt & Quinn, Mike felt he was at a dead end and had no options remaining. Levitt & Quinn’s Stand Up for Gus project provides free representation to parents seeking to increase their involvement in their children’s lives, and was designed to help in heartbreaking and complex cases such as Mike’s search for his daughter. Attorney Jenny Skoble took the lead, helping Mike take further steps to find the mother and follow the court’s instruction. With the new information in hand, Levitt & Quinn prepared a request for an order instructing the District Attorney to help locate the mother, which was granted three days before Christmas. This was a big step in a long road to reunification. The District Attorney on the case has an excellent track record of finding abducted children, and we have high hopes that she will be found soon. “I just wish I had come to you sooner!” said Mike. At Levitt & Quinn, it is our goal to help families like these achieve the stability and support they need to flourish and thrive.

*not client’s real name.

A Veteran’s Story

gavelA veteran of the U.S. Army, Tom* is the proud father of a three-year-old boy. But court orders, put in place at a time when Tom was attempting to navigate the complex legal system on his own, limited him to supervised visitation with his son and mandated child support payments that were almost three-fourths of his monthly income.

Levitt & Quinn Fellow Becky Miller stood next to Tom in court on two occasions and was able to get him approved for overnight visits with his son and reduce his unwieldy child support payments by nearly half. Tom is so excited to be able to spend quality time with his son. He describes his experience with Levitt & Quinn as amazing: “without Levitt & Quinn, my son and I would not be sharing family time together. They brought joy back into my life.”

An Adoption Story

Camellia’s* family came to Levitt & Quinn seeking to adopt her into their loving care. Born with a serious disability, adoption was complicated by the fact that the family needed extra financial support in order to provide for her medical needs. As the parents tried valiantly to make Camellia a part of their family, they came up against roadblock after roadblock. Lack of clarity on being approved for disability benefits threatened to foreclose those benefits forever, jeopardizing the family’s ability to provide Camellia with the best possible care. Despite the frustrating path that led them to the doors of Levitt & Quinn, the parents were more determined than ever to move forward with the adoption and make Camellia a permanent member of their family. Levitt & Quinn attorney Sharon Hulse worked tirelessly to facilitate this complex adoption case, negotiating on her behalf to obtain the funds that would give her the care she needed. Ultimately, a successful outcome was reached, and Camellia is flourishing under the charge of her permanent family with access to the medical support that is so important to her wellbeing.
*Not client’s real name.

Father and Child Reunited

Levitt & Quinn’s Stand Up for Gus Project made a strong start with its very first case on behalf of a parent seeking the return of his young child. The project was funded by the Stand Up for Gus Foundation which provides free legal services to parents seeking greater involvement in their children’s lives. In April, Levitt & Quinn attorney Jenny Skoble appeared in court on behalf of the projects very first client, Joe.* Joe’s child had been taken out of state without his permission or knowledge over the previous weekend. He is very low income and could not afford an attorney. He is not particularly sophisticated, educated or articulate, but he is a loving father and was the primary caretaker of his young daughter who lived with him.

On a Saturday, the child’s mother asked Joe to bring their daughter to the park to spend some time with her and he did. A few hours later, Joe received a call from the mother. She left a message letting him know that she had moved to Las Vegas with their daughter and he need not pick her up. Joe spent the weekend distraught and unable to obtain assistance from the police. He had no idea where his daughter was, if she was okay and was unable to speak with her. That Wednesday, Levitt & Quinn appeared in court and obtained an order for the return of Joe’s child. She was back with her father by the weekend. The hearing was so complex and extended that Ms. Skoble came back to the office during the court’s lunch break to prepare additional pleadings. The father could not have successfully represented himself in court. Without the legal assistance of Levitt & Quinn made possible by Stand Up for Gus, Joe’s daughter would not have been returned so quickly and perhaps not at all.
*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.