The “Miracle” in Her Life

When Gloria* talks about her life now, she smiles. Twenty years ago, she was living in a shelter with her five children trying to survive, and many hard years followed. Today she is safe, financially stable, and a homeowner. She owes this “miracle” to finding the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law and through it, her pro bono attorney David Shebby.

Throughout her long marriage, Gloria’s husband severely abused her, causing blindness in one eye.  To escape the cruelty, she fled and obtained a divorce. The judge awarded her custody, support and an even split in the property they owned. But, Gloria never saw a penny.

Her ex-husband defied the court orders. He deliberately prevented any attempt to sell their property. He threatened to kill Gloria if she did anything and brandished a gun in front of her and the children to make his point. A real estate agent tried to start the sale several times but quit, fearful that Gloria’s ex would shoot or attack him with his guard dogs.

Without funds to hire a lawyer and still very frightened, Gloria gave up trying to enforce her court-ordered marital recompense. She focused on raising the children and returned to school. She worked double shifts as a trained medical assistant and moved from a shelter to an apartment. Reaching 64 years of age and not wanting to be a future burden on her now adult children, she decided to try one more time to collect the funds she was due for her many years of marriage. She found the help she needed at the Harriett Buhai Center.

Although it had been over 15 years since she last tried to enforce her court orders, the Center took her case and immediately found a willing and experienced volunteer attorney in David Shebby to handle her complicated case.  With much legal work and strong advocacy, Gloria was able to sell the property at long last and keep all of the proceeds amounting to a tidy sum, sufficient to assure her a stable retirement. Her ex-husband received nothing because his share went to pay back support as well as interest that had accrued from all the years of non-payment.

In 2017, Gloria moved closer to some of her family and bought her dream house with some of the money she claimed. She says “finding the Center and having Mr. Shebby as my attorney was a miracle in my life.”  Shebby modestly says this is an “inspiring immigrant story about a strong woman single-handedly raising successful children in harrowing circumstances and getting the justice she deserves.”

*Client’s name and photo changed to protect her privacy.