Below are a few samples of the cases that Volunteer Lawyers Project handles.
Guardianship of Minor
The client has been caring for her 6-year-old granddaughter for the past year. The child’s mother is incarcerated, and her father lives in Florida. The principal of her granddaughter’s school recently told the client that she needed a guardianship to keep her granddaughter enrolled in school. The client obtained a temporary guardianship but needs help to make the guardianship permanent. The child’s mother has said she will assent to the guardianship and client will obtain written assent. The attorney will need to effect service on the father by publication to obtain the permanent guardianship.
Guardianship of Adult Incapacitated Person
Client is the mother of a 17-year old girl who has Down’s Syndrome, is legally blind, and is unable to make decisions regarding her safety and well-being. Daughter receives services from Boston Public Schools and has an Individualized Education Plan. She lives with her mother (our client) and two siblings. Her mother has been her caretaker since birth and would like to have the guardianship in place before her daughter’s 18th birthday. Client will obtain signed assents from all parties listed on the petition. Client speaks Spanish; an interpreter will be provided at VLP’s expense.
Family Law – Divorce, Child Support, Alimony
Client is seeking divorce from her husband of 20 years. The client and her husband were married 20 years ago and last lived together in 2010 in Massachusetts. They have three children, the youngest of whom is 12. The client works as a substitute teacher. Her husband lives in Ohio and works as a union plumber. He does not pay child support and sees the children for sporadic visits. Massachusetts has personal jurisdiction over him since he last lived here with the client and their 2 younger children. The client seeks a child support order according to the guidelines and is comfortable with open visitation. Given the length of the marriage, alimony is appropriate in this case. The client believes her husband has a pension through the plumber’s union, and she also believes he could provide health insurance for the children through his current job. There are no other marital assets or debts to divide.
Client owes over $30,000 on various credit cards. He accrued this debt while he was laid off from his job, after his unemployment benefits ran out. He is still looking for another job. Client seeks to file for bankruptcy to gain a fresh start.
Client worked at a retail store for three years. For several weeks, a co-worker repeatedly asked client out and became verbally abusive when she refused. Client complained to the store manager about the harassment, and the manager said she would talk to the co-worker. The co-worker’s behavior continued and reached the point where client did not feel safe going into work. Feeling she had no other choice, the client stopped working. Client applied for Unemployment Benefits and the store is opposing her claim on the grounds that she quit voluntarily. She is waiting for a hearing date.
Eviction for Non-Payment for Rent
Client received a notice to quit after non-payment of rent. Client has lived his apartment for 15 years and does not want to leave. Client stopped paying rent after numerous health and safety issues including the heat not working, mold growing on the bathroom ceiling from a pipe leak that has not been fixed, and rats in the home. Client has told the landlord multiple times about these problems. Inspection Services came to apartment and documented the issues. Client would like to fight the eviction and ask for these issues to be fixed.
Public Housing Transfer
The client is a 57-year-old woman who seeks an emergency transfer from her Boston Housing Authority unit. As a result of multiple sclerosis (MS) she has difficulty with movement and balance and she is frequently overcome with fatigue. When her MS is flaring up, she cannot climb stairs. Her current apartment is on the second floor in a building without an elevator. Also, there are no handrails in the bathroom to help with her balance, and there is no emergency call button. She requested a transfer six months ago, was denied, and requested a grievance hearing. Her nurse practitioner has written a letter in support of the transfer request, but an updated letter will be necessary. The client hopes to be able to transfer into either a first-floor apartment or a building with an elevator.