Anahay [1] a mother of two, came to Ayuda seeking legal representation to request custody of her two children as well as child support from their abusive father, Paco.

Paco had a history of abusing Anahay physically, emotionally, financially and sexually – even abusing Anahay in front of their youngest child. Despite Paco’s abuse, Anahay was more afraid that Paco would take the children from her, based on threats he had made in the past.

Paco threatened Anahay on more than one occasion by saying that he would make sure Anahay didn’t return from the hospital after he hurt her, and that she would never see the children again. Paco’s threats tortured Anahay, and she was determined to do everything she could to protect the children.

During one of Paco’s out of town trips, Anahay seized that moment to flee their shared home. She brought the children with her to a confidential location and sought a protection order against Paco based on his history of abusing Anahay and of Paco’s potential to harm Anahay in the future.

Anahay successfully obtained a protection order that awarded her temporary full custody of the children as well as financial support. Pursuant to this protection order and a subsequent protection order awarded to Anahay, Paco was allowed to visit with the children in a supervised setting, but he never exercised his right to do so. Paco did not follow the instructions in the protection order to participate in visits, and showed no interest in reestablishing a relationship with the children.

Anahay feared that once the protection order expired, Paco would try to reenter her life and the lives of the children, so she immediately sought Ayuda’s help to fight for permanent sole legal custody and primary physical custody of the children.

Sole legal custody would give Anahay the exclusive right to make important decisions for the children concerning medical care, education, and religion – which she was already doing. Primary physical custody would mean that the children could continue to live with Anahay and their older half siblings on a full-time basis. If the court granted her custody request, Anahay would not have to worry about long-term co-parenting with her abusive husband Paco.

As the trial date loomed, Anahay felt terrified when Paco, through his attorneys, asked the court to grant him joint legal and joint physical custody of the children.

Still, Anahay was adamant that Paco see the children under only the most secure of conditions. She asked that a neutral third party, preferably a court-affiliated party, supervise any visits and that the children not be alone with their father. Anahay did not want the children to endure any more traumatic experiences after witnessing Paco abuse her, and after they had already experienced Paco’s angry outbursts and emotional abuse during the time the family lived together.

On the day of trial, Ayuda’s attorneys made a compelling case to the judge by presenting carefully selected evidence that supported Anahay’s request for custody and child support.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court awarded Anahay what she has asked for: sole legal custody and primary physical custody, with supervised visitation for Paco, as well as child support and backpay child support. Anahay could not be more overjoyed with the decision. With the assistance of Ayuda’s Domestic Violence and Family Law program advocating on her behalf, and on behalf of the children, Anahay can now raise her children in a stable, loving, violence-free home.


[1] Names have been changed to protect the client’s privacy and safety.

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