Given a Voice

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Divorced Mother Retains Custody of Children

Mary Rocco, Attorney at Law

Sylvia came to CVLS at the worst possible time. Her pending divorce case had already been set for trial, and there were minors involved. Although such cases are notoriously difficult for CVLS to place with attorneys, Mary Rocco bravely volunteered to represent Sylvia. Mary realized that the parties had little to no assets, but they were contesting custody of their two children, ages 15 and 17.

The children had been living with Sylvia for the past seven years, but Sylvia’s husband insisted on being named the custodial parent. Sylvia valiantly tried to represent herself for two years. Over and over, she attempted to negotiate with her husband’s attorney, but the attorney rejected all of Sylvia’s settlement proposals.

Immediately after Mary stepped in as Sylvia’s attorney, the opposing attorney started to take Sylvia more seriously. Mary was able avoid trial and incorporate all of Sylvia’s proposals into a final settlement agreement. Sylvia retained decision-making authority over her teenage children and was named the custodial parent in the divorce judgment.

One of the sad realities of the legal system is that self-represented litigants like Sylvia are rarely taken seriously and often outright dismissed. With the help of Mary and other pro bono attorneys, CVLS provides clients with a voice in the courtroom and equal access to justice.