Ana,” who was a citizen in of the South American country where she was born, had moved to the United States with her American husband. She planned to become a naturalized US citizen through marriage. Instead, she became trapped in a difficult situation, in which she and her daughter were at serious risk of harm.
A Young Child at Risk
Ana’s husband turned out to be emotionally controlling and abusive. Further, the husband’s adult daughter revealed to Ana that he had repeatedly sexually abused his stepdaughter, starting when she was six years old. Ana, who had a five-year-old daughter with her husband, knew that she and her daughter needed to get out. She asked Have Justice Will Travel (HJWT), a legal aid resource funded in part by the Vermont Bar Foundation, to help her obtain a protective order and then a divorce.
A Noncompliant Father
HJWT started by obtaining a protective order that prevented the husband from contacting Ana. Then they convinced the Court to agree to a temporary arrangement for supervised contact between Ana’s husband and their daughter. When the husband failed to follow through on family-member supervised contact, Ana then asked the Court to order supervised contact through a visitation center. The Court granted her request, but the husband then violated the condition of having no contact with Ana.
Attorney John Lamson argued at a contested hearing that the husband should have no contact with his daughter until he engaged in treatment and/or counseling. The husband argued that he had completed treatment and was fully rehabilitated. Upon questioning by Attorney Lamson, the husband failed to identify a single specific thing that he had learned from treatment, nor could he identify his “triggers” that might lead to abuse, which he alleged he was avoiding.
A Positive Resolution
The Court granted Ana’s request, noting the husband’s apparent lack of understanding or appreciation for the gravity and consequences of his offense. Ana gained the protection for herself and her child that she so desperately needed.