Christina Finds Life-saving Legal Support at DAP

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Christina Finds Life-saving Legal Support at DAP

October 4, 2016

Christina lived in constant fear. She feared she would never be fully safe from her abuser. Christina’s husband, Dan, had been abusing Christina and her kids emotionally and psychologically for years. Dan would call Christina names in front of their kids and threaten her. She’d been contemplating a divorce for months, but she didn’t think she had had enough financial stability on her own to follow through.  

But one day, Christina decided to call the police when her husband threatened to physically abuse her. Things were escalating, Dan had never threatened her with physical violence before. Enough was enough. 

A few months later, Christina, and her kids found themselves at DAP. With DAP’s help, Christina completed the Women’s Program and her children began to heal from the abuse they witnessed in the Children’s Group. Although things were getting more steady in her life, Christina wanted to divorce her husband – and she had lots of questions about sharing custody with Dan, and didn’t have a lot of money to consult with a lawyer. After sharing her concerns to her therapist at DAP, she advised that Christina go to DAP’s free legal clinic  

When Christina arrived at DAP for the free legal clinic she met with Jessica Wassenberg, an attorney in family law that offers the legal clinic at DAP pro bono once a month for 3 hours. Wassenberg has practiced family law for over 10 years and has donated over 1,000 hours in pro bono work helping the underrepresented in Minnesota.  Wassenberg handles mostly divorce, child custody cases, and orders for protection.  After Christina described her situation and concerns to the attorney, Mrs. Wassenberg suggested that Christina file for Parenting Time Assistance during her divorce. Parenting Time Assistance would allow for her husband to have set days and times where he could see his children, thereby relieving Christina’s worry of Dan coming over unexpectedly.  

With the help of Wassenberg, Christina was able to file for Parenting Time Assistance and stop the constant stress she felt from the fear of her husband showing up randomly. “Having Mrs. Wassenberg as a resource at Domestic Abuse Project helped save my family the extra grief of having to confront my abuser unexpectedly. Without this aid, filing for Parenting Time Assistance might have been too difficult to do alone.”  

Katie, a Women’s Program case worker, says “Advocacy provides short term safety plans for victims of domestic violence. Law can provide a long term solution.” She continues, “The legal system can be very difficult for those without proper representation. Add complicated situations such as domestic violence into the mix and it becomes even more complex.” 

For clients like Christina at DAP, the free legal clinic offers an immense amount of support, without putting added stress on their finances. It has been over a year since Christina completed the Women’s Program at DAP and filed for Parental Time Assistance. Since then, she has been able to move on from the financial stresses of her divorce as well as the mental stress she felt from her ex-husband.

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