Big help without the big bill

Monday, December 10, 2018

Single mother gets support she deserves

Paul Dengel, Schiff Hardin

Good, affordable lawyers are hard to come by. At Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, we pride ourselves on connecting low-income clients to skilled attorneys at no cost to the client.

T.’s case started as a simple modification of child support. Unable to work full-time, she needed additional support from her child’s father. In 2014, the father’s child support obligation had been reduced to zero because of alleged critical health problems that prevented him from working.

When T. found out that the child’s father had returned to work last year, she wanted to modify the child support order to reflect his current income. Paul Dengel, a partner at Schiff Hardin and a trusted, experienced volunteer with CVLS, agreed to take T.’s case.

Litigation quickly became heated. The father challenged T.’s ability to work and reasserted his rights to parenting time that he had not exercised for years. Soon, all aspects of the of the parenting relationship were subject to dispute. Without representation, T. would have likely been overwhelmed and defeated.

It took nine months, an extensive pretrial conference with the Court and multiple sessions with a court-appointed Child Representative, before the parties were able to resolve their issues in a comprehensive parenting plan and child support order.

Paul spent more than 300 hours on this case. At his regular billing rate, T. would have been charged over $250,000. Instead she was able to positively resolve her legal issues at no cost to her.

That is the power of pro bono.