Annie* first contacted Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV) for help through the Children’s Education Law project.
Rhonda McCormick, LAWV’s project advocate, assisted Annie in obtaining an appropriate Individualized Educational Plan for Annie’s daughter, who has a behavioral health diagnosis that was affecting her schooling. As Annie got to know and trust Rhonda, Annie opened up to her and disclosed that her husband Carl* was abusing her and the children.
LAWV assisted Annie with a domestic violence petition. Carl was highly contentious and initially ignored the family court’s orders. Melissa Hager, the children’s project attorney, went on to help Annie with a divorce, a custody modification, two contempt hearings, and an additional domestic violence petition in order to enable Annie and her children to attain safety.
The family court judge also ordered Carl to pay Annie’s property tax and utility bills. Because Carl refused to pay the bills, Annie’s gas was cut off, leaving her with no heat and only cold water at her house. Annie was also in danger of losing the home and the car she was awarded in the divorce case, both of which were paid off at the time of the divorce, because Annie had to borrow money against them to pay the property taxes.
LAWV attorneys also represented Annie in a Social Security Administration case. The judge, after three hearings, awarded Annie $20,253.33 in back benefits and a monthly SSI check of $619.
Thanks to her SSI lump sum award, Annie will be able to keep her house and her car, and have her gas and hot water turned back on.
Annie and her family will be safe with income and their own home, thanks to legal aid.
*Names have been changed.