Frank Makes it Home

Levitt & Quinn client Frank* is a veteran of the United States Army. Frank has four adult children born before and during his military service. Frank divorced shortly before he was discharged. Initially, he regularly made child support payments. When he had steady work, Frank continued to make payments and be involved in his children’s lives. However, after his discharge, Frank was working odd jobs, and was unable to make payments. Ashamed that he could not pay, Frank stopped seeing his children and his child support issues went unresolved. Because of unpaid arrears, Frank was unable to get his passport renewed and could not accept a well paying job overseas. By 2013, Frank’s child support debt had grown to over $300,000 and half of his paycheck from his job as a clerk was being garnished each month. This left Frank unable to pay rent even for a small studio apartment. He was forced to move in with his adult daughter for whom he was paying child support from over a decade ago.

Frank found out about Levitt & Quinn and its Veteran’s Project through the website and met with Equal Justice Works Veterans Fellow Rebecca Miller. Rebecca agreed to represent Frank and appeared on his behalf at the child support hearing in January. At that hearing Rebecca advocated for a reduced monthly payment and credit for the time his children had lived with him. Frank’s outstanding child support amount was reduced almost a quarter of a million dollars to $88,000 and his monthly payment was cut in half. Frank has big plans for his new home and relationships with his daughters going forward. He sees his future as bright without insurmountable debt holding him back. Frank’s story is just one of many stories of veterans assisted through Levitt & Quinn’s Veteran’s project in its first six months.
*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.

 

Mother and Daughter Find Safe Haven

In early August, Magdalena* came to Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center in search of a safe haven. She had fled her home with her young daughter in June after her husband violently attacked and almost suffocated her. Magdalena sought refuge in a shelter for domestic violence victims but was forced to flee to a new shelter because her abuser had used her mobile phone to locate her. When Magdalena came to Levitt & Quinn she had a restraining order hearing scheduled in less than two weeks and no access to money to pay an attorney. She had prepared her own restraining order petition, but needed an attorney to represent her at the hearing. Complicating matters, Magdalena found out that her husband had responded to her escape by filing a request for sole custody of their daughter.

Levitt & Quinn reached out to the private bar for assistance and civil firm Latham & Watkins LLP responded. Latham & Watkins attorneys quickly got up to speed in the case and met with Magdalena within days. The team was able to gain her trust with their confident and gentle questioning. Their presence, in addition to their hard work and preparation, was critical in the case and meant the world to Magdalena. The hearing took the better part of the day and the Latham & Watkins attorneys empowered Magdalena every step of the way. In the end they obtained a protective order for Magdalena and her daughter who remain in hiding. Magdalena thanked the Latham & Watkins attorneys saying, “since the moment I met you I felt very sure that I was in good hands. Your help has been so wonderful for me and I hope many more people are able to have this same benefit.”
*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.

A New Beginning

Levitt & Quinn client Susan* and her family are safe and her children are attending school regularly after enduring years of abuse. Susan and her children escaped years of violence with the assistance of Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center. Susan found the courage to leave the relationship after the father of her infant son, Danny, hit her three year-old son and attacked her as she held Danny. Her abuser’s violence and methamphetamine use escalated over three years during which she endured sexual, physical and verbal attacks. Throughout their relationship, Danny’s father regularly punched, scratched and kicked her. During her pregnancy he struck her face on several occasions leaving her with permanent structural damage and numerous scars. She fled the relationship so that her children would not have to live with similar scars. *Client’s name changed to protect her privacy.

When she finally made her way to Levitt & Quinn, Susan had prepared and filed a petition for a restraining order without legal representation and had no idea how to represent herself at the hearing. She does not have a high school diploma and the paperwork she had filed lacked the facts and law necessary to support her request for a protective order. With Levitt & Quinn’s representation at the hearing, Susan was granted a restraining order protecting her and her four children and giving her sole legal and physical custody of Danny who now has the chance to grow up in a safe and stable home.

Missing Child Returned Safely to Father

Peter* shared custody of his seven year old daughter Maisy* with her mother. Peter was terrified when he arrived at school to pick her up one Wednesday and she was not there. Maisy was nowhere to be found and Peter had no idea where she was or if she was safe. When her mother did not respond to any of Peter’s frantic phone calls, Peter went to the police and was told that nothing could be done without a court order. Maisy’s father went to court on his own and filed his own paperwork, but his request was denied. Weeks passed. He was referred to Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center by the court. With the help of Levitt and Quinn attorney Amanda Fleming, Peter obtained an order for a District Attorney search through which the mother and daughter were found living in Texas. After the mother and child were located and Peter knew his daughter was safe-he was able to reach an agreement regarding custody with Levitt & Quinn’s help and Peter is back in Maisy’s life.

*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.

 

Hope Creates a Family

In 2002, Hope* received a call from her cousin in Mexico, asking her to care for two small children, who were in the U.S., until her cousin could join them. The children were only one and three at the time and Hope, seeing no other options for the children, agreed.  However, Hope’s cousin never returned. She continued to care for them despite earning little more than $1,000 per month. In 2003, Hope obtained guardianship of the children so that she could better provide for their medical care and education.  As the years passed, she realized that the children’s birth mother was never going to be able or willing to care for the children.

*Client’s name changed to protect privacy.

In 2008, Hope began to contact attorneys about gaining permanent custody.  Unfortunately, she obtained inaccurate legal advice and improperly filed guardianship and adoption cases. The children’s lack of legal status in the U.S. complicated the situation.  Hope paid an adoption attorney, immigration attorney and a guardianship attorney, all of whom filed the wrong paperwork, and the adoption case was dismissed in 2009.

In 2010, with nowhere else to turn, Hope contacted Levitt & Quinn and received expert legal assistance.  The parental rights of the birth parents were terminated due to their abandonment.  Subsequently, and in coordination with the Immigration Center for Women and Children, Levitt & Quinn attorney Lucia Reyes finalized the adoption this month.  Because of Hope’s extremely low income she was not able to pay even our very low fees, but we were able to represent her in the long ordeal because her representation was funded by donations such as the one provided by Toyota Financial Services. (See Toyota story below.)