A Place of Empowerment

Domestic violence fueled by alcohol abuse were the reasons that drove Lisa* to want a divorce from her husband.  She needed help protecting herself, her three children, and her legal rights accumulated after 18 years of marriage.  Guided by the Center’s pro per program, Lisa obtained a final decree of dissolution, support and payment of marital debts and court orders of protection and custody of the children restricting visitation.

“Five years before I came to the Buhai Center I knew my marriage was over.  It was lack of finances that kept me from pursuing a divorce.  Eventually I started at another place.  After three months of filing paper work, they suddenly told me my case was too complicated and cut me loose.  When I complained, someone told me about the Buhai Center.  She said, ‘try this place; I’ve heard good things about it.’  I don’t remember her name, but she did me the biggest favor in the world.

The Center helped me and gave me a framework to work with.  They provided me with the paperwork I needed and went line by line on how to fill it out.  One attorney at the Buhai Center really took an interest in my case.  She helped me out a great deal.  She personally reviewed my file while I was there and gave me a private line to call through on.  She made herself available to me whenever I had questions.  She was an amazing lady.  As far as I’m concerned, she was my guardian angel.

I attended all three of the Center’s dissolution clinics and came in two additional times when I needed changes made.  My husband had received three D.I.U.’s and served time in jail.  I wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t be intoxicated when he was with the kids.  I was trying to get sole legal and physical custody with only visitation to him.  I didn’t want to worry about having to track my husband down in jail if my son needed surgery or something like that.

Going to court myself was a little scary at first, particularly on the days when my husband had to come.  But as my case progressed I would get a sense of accomplishment and pride.  Thanks to the Center, I eventually got sole legal and physical custody.  The results from my case far exceeded what I expected.  When I first went looking for someone to help, I thought I was going to settle for mediocrity.

If I hadn’t found the Buhai Center, I’m not sure where I would be now.  It’s kind of scary to think about it. My divorce took shorter than friends of mine who have hired private attorneys.  I had waited so long to end my marriage and finally holding the divorce papers in my hands, it was such a great feeling.

I appreciate the Center’s professionalism and compassion.  It was a tough time.  You are trying to dissolve something that you thought was going to last forever.  I was in a state where I felt lost and there was no hope.  This was the first time in my life when I wasn’t able to accomplish something because of money.  It was a bad situation.  There were times when I called the Center in tears.  I’d tell them that the court said I didn’t have this or that in order, and the attorney on the phone would say to me, ‘get your paperwork and we’ll do it together right now.’

When I think about it, there is a dire, dire need for places like the Buhai Center.  There are a lot of woman and men who are in unhealthy situations who can’t get out because they can’t afford to.  When I think about it, I get choked up.  I met women at the Center who had been beaten and sexually molested. I was honored to meet those women and hear their stories.  It was a very empowering thing.”