“I Hold My Head High – Thanks to Everyone at the Center”

Clara* felt powerless when she came to the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law. Years of her husband’s abuse had crushed her feelings of self-worth. Having quit his job, supporting her children on her own without his help was an overwhelming prospect. She agonized over the hostility from her adult children because they believed she was trying “to take their father’s money.” With the help of the Center, Clara found new financial and emotional well-being after she overcame several formidable legal hurdles and set a path for her own future.

In one challenge, Clara faced the loss of $43,000 in pension funds set aside for her benefit by her husband’s retirement plan. To prevent this financial catastrophe, the Center lawyers raced into court to get an emergency order turning over the monies to her. The successful legal effort included team members Linda Morra and Mercy Fresno, both longtime volunteer attorneys of the Center, who prepared most of the paperwork needed to persuade the judge. On the brink of poverty, Clara welcomed the monetary lifeline.

In another conflict, Clara stood to lose her financial interest in their family home of 20 years because her name was not on the deed, and her husband had bought it before they married. Again, the Center’s legal staff, volunteers and law students put together a compelling legal argument, and the judge declared that the house was 100% community property, finding that Clara was entitled to one-half of it.

Today, with a steady job, ongoing pension payments and additional funds from her former husband’s retirement plan to reimburse her for past due support, poverty is no longer a reality for Clara. Clara says she has been able to “hold her head high” because of the help from “everyone at the Center.”

*To protect Clara’s identity, her name and photo have been changed.