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THE NEED IN OUR COMMUNITY

Client Stories (click through to read them all)

Against the established parenting plan, Teresa’s ex-husband kidnapped their son from daycare and fled to Florida. After an exhausting 8-month search and battle, Teresa’s son was returned to her custody in Snohomish County. Unfortunately, her son’s physical return was just the beginning of Teresa’s long battle to keep her child safe. The ex-husband began to file motion after motion in court to try to get custody of their son. He even began stalking and harassing Teresa at home and at work. Teresa desperately needed legal help, but as a single mother she could not afford to hire an attorney. It took months of litigation, but an SCLS staff attorney defeated all of the ex-husband’s aggressive attempts to regain control of Teresa and her son’s lives and their futures.

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Teresa’s Story

( Family Law, Direct Representation )

Frank was incompetent due to Alzheimer's Disease, heart disease, and other medical conditions, and living in an assisted living home. The home was in the process of evicting her for nonpayment of rent, which was due to Frank's son's failure to pay. The home failed to get proper financial documentation from the son when Frank was admitted, so the assisted living home served all legal papers on Frank despite knowing full well that he was incompetent and unable to handle his affairs. At the eviction hearing, SCLS attorneys got a continuance of the eviction hearing and the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem for Frank to investigate his needs. SCLS advocated for Frank using a U.S. Supreme Court case stating that when an entity is trying to legally serve a known incompetent, the entity must serve a guardian and not the incompetent person in order to comply with the due process rights of the incompetent. With the appointment of a guardian for Frank, payment of the rent would come from his protected assets instead of relying on cash from the son. We are grateful that he was able to stay in the safety and comfort of his home in his last few months of his life.

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Frank’s Story

( Family Law, Housing Justice )

Maria was a single mother and a survivor of domestic violence. Her young son had a brain tumor and had undergone chemo resulting in blindness in one eye. Her ex-boyfriend was prosecuted and convicted of assault, but because he had been paying the rent, she fell behind. Maria had been served with an un-filed eviction summons and complaint, and it was critical that she avoid having the action filed as it would have been a huge barrier to future rental opportunities. She was also dealing with habitability issues in the apartment that were not being addressed by the landlord. Maria was in dire straits when she came to SCLS. Not only did SCLS work with her on the legal issues of surrounding her living situation, Maria was referred to Domestic Violence Services for immediate assistance as well. We worked together on a plan for Maria and her son, negotiating additional time of one and a half months for the tenant to vacate without an eviction action being filed by the landlord. Maria secured employment, and DVS assisted her in finding another place to live and to help with initial rent. She was extremely grateful. “Thank you again, without you my son and I would be in an awful place, thank you doesn't even cover our gratitude in what you … have done for us.”

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Maria’s Story

( Housing Justice )

Mike suffered from a chronic illness and was facing significant debt and housing issues, including garnishment of his wages, back taxes owed to the IRS, and eviction from his apartment. Through the Debt Relief Clinic, a SCLS staff attorney assisted him in filing for bankruptcy to recover garnished wages and eliminate his overwhelming debt burden. SCLS helped him avoid the devastating effects of an eviction filing by timely vacating his apartment, and provided a letter for him to present to potential landlords explaining his bankruptcy and financial situation. He is now progressing with his bankruptcy case and plans to use the nearly $1,000 to be recovered from garnishment through bankruptcy to help secure new housing. It also appears his outstanding debt to the IRS will be discharged, and since the IRS has been keeping his tax refund for several years, this will further improve his ability to afford rent in the future. Mike told our staff attorney she was “like an angel with no wings,” and has expressed “money talks” when dealing with private landlords - because he has now dealt with his debt issues appropriately and freed up his financial resources to pay rent and a bigger security deposit, landlords are now more open to rent to him.

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Mike’s Story

( Debt Relief, Bankruptcy, Housing )

At age 17, Dionne was sexually assaulted by a much older man who lived in a neighboring apartment. Police and prosecutors were investigating her case but had not made an arrest or charging decision, and the neighbor was continuing to harass the teenager so much that she was afraid he would assault her again. A SCLS staff attorney represented her in obtaining a Sexual Assault Protection Order that required the perpetrator to relocate out of the building and have no further contact with her. The attorney also helped facilitate contact with the prosecutor so she could make a proper charging decision. SCLS connected Dionne with support services so she could begin the healing process. She reports feeling much safer now that she no longer sees her attacker near her home.

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Dionne’s Story

( Direct Representation )