Rosa*, an immigrant from El Salvador, was happily living with her partner when she found out she was pregnant. Unfortunately, the news brought a sinister side out of the father-to-be, Julio*. His temper became short, eventually escalating to verbal and physical abuse directed at Rosa.  

She clung to a hope that the arrival of their daughter might inspire Julio to change his ways. But nothing improved. On top of the abuse, Julio began drinking, and offered little support in caring for their baby. Whenever Rosa asked him to pitch in, Julio dismissed her with “that’s your job, not mine.” 

Leaving an abuser is challenging for anyone – but especially for immigrant survivors. Being a mother, Rosa’s biggest concern was how Julio’s abuse might impact her daughter. She turned to Ayuda’s Domestic Violence and Family Law team to seek sole custody. 

The case teetered on dismissal due to initial hearing logistics, but an Ayuda family law attorney guided Rosa to mediate as directed by the judge. When Julio failed to comply, the judge waived mediation. However, when Julio was ready to mediate later, Rosa declined, which the judge frowned upon (or would hold against her). 

Julio was in “default” and despite his absence, the judge proceeded with a contested trial. Rosa and her witnesses, prepared by Ayuda’s attorneys, secured one final chance for in-court mediation. Two hours later, Rosa won sole custody, safeguarding her daughter from her abuser. 

*Names and photo changed to protect our clients’ privacy.