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Family Law/Domestic Violence Spotlight

17 February 11

South Brooklyn Legal Services Family Law/Domestic Violence Attorney Conducts Webinar on Providing Services

A South Brooklyn Legal Services attorney shared some of the lessons she’s learned from serving women and children victimized by domestic violence during a recent, online webinar for fellow providers of care.

Nadya E. Rosen, the Deputy Director of the Family Law/DV Unit at SBLS, conducted the national webinar training, entitled Providing Civil Legal Services at a Family Justice Center: Benefits, Challenges and Lessons Learned, for the Family Justice Center Alliance (FJCA).

Ms. Rosen, along with Jennifer DeCarli, Executive Director of the New York City Family Justice Center (FJC), Brooklyn, discussed the vital need for providing these services at the Brooklyn FJC on Thursday, Feb. 10.

The Brooklyn FJC has been serving victim/survivors of domestic violence and their families in Brooklyn for over five years and SBLS has been an on-site partner since the Center’s inception in 2005. Forty-five percent of the clients that seek services at Brooklyn FJC request assistance with civil legal needs.

Ms. Rosen has been working at the Brooklyn FJC since she joined SBLS in June 2007 and spoke about how important the team environment at the Brooklyn FJC has been to providing quality civil legal services, even while acknowledging that such an environment is fraught with complications, including coordinating client care with multiple agencies and preserving client confidentiality, working with service providers with differing ethical obligations and managing client expectations.

Over 200 participants signed up to learn more about how to bring these services to their centers and what important steps are necessary to be taken to insure that clients receive holistic services.

(Family Law/Domestic Violence)

27 September 10

SBLS Unit Director Honored by Brooklyn Treatment Court

South Brooklyn Legal Service’s Anna Maria Diamanti, director of the Family Law/Domestic Violence unit, was honored for her work by Brooklyn Treatment Court during their graduation ceremony last week.

Diamanti was thanked for assisting participants and court personnel in all areas of law and for being so generous with her time.

Brooklyn Treatment Court or BTC links non-violent, substance-abusing participants to treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration.

Diamanti has been the Director of the Family Law/DV Unit since July 2008. Prior to coming to SBLS, Diamanti was a Supervising Attorney at Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Law Project from 2002 to 2006 and a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati from 2000 to 2002. Diamanti received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2000 and her B.A. in History from Boston College in 1997. Diamanti is on the Board of the Appellate Representation Project for Battered Women at the New York Legal Assistance Group.

(Family Law/Domestic Violence)

6 May 08

Abuser Uses Deportation Threat To Frighten Legal Immigrant

Our client, a Turkish speaker, came to the United States in February of 2007 with a green card. When she came to the Family Justice Center, she had been married for one and a half years but had suffered abuse. Her husband had even threatened her with deportation despite her fully-legal status. A pregnant new immigrant, she was terrified that she would be deported after giving birth, and so fled the state of New York to live with relatives.

A week after the child was born, the father filed a visitation petition, seeking to remove the child from where it was with its mother to visit the father in Brooklyn. South Brooklyn Legal Services represented the mother in the case and argued successfully that the state of the mother’s residence had jurisdiction, not New York, because the child had been with its mother in that state since birth.

The father has not filed for a new petition for custody or visitation in our client’s new home state, where she is represented by an attorney obtained through our referral. She plans to stay with her family for the next few years to become self-sufficient. There she can take English as a Second Language classes, secure employment and receive childcare assistance from her family

(Family Law/Domestic Violence)

11 March 08

Abuse Crosses State Lines

In April 2007, Ms. K and her three children, two of whom who have extensive disabilities, fled an extremely abusive and violent husband in California and came to New York.

During the marriage, Mr. K regularly beat his wife, locked her in closets, forbid her and the children from leaving the house and restricted her telephone access. Ms. K was forced to flee California without any money or access to a bank account, credit cards, immigration papers, her social security card or driver’s license – she was destitute. Mr. K had also forbidden Ms. K from contacting her parents in Egypt or her siblings, who lived in New York, but Ms. K hoped that they would be able to help her escape her husband’s violence.

Thankfully, Ms. K was able to reconnect with her parents, who came to New York from Egypt, and brothers for the first time in several years, and was able to get badly needed special educational and social services for the children and herself. Her family helped to support her while she and her children became settled in New York, and her children were able to meet their grandparents for the first time.

Ms. K filed a pro se custody and order of protection petitions before she found South Brooklyn Legal Services, but her husband’s attorney filed motions asking the court to dismiss them for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that California was the home state of the children and that no domestic violence had occurred in New York. Mr. K wanted Ms. K to be forced to litigate these issues in California.

Natalia Williams, an attorney in SBLS’ Family/Domestic Violence Unit, filed response papers arguing that New York should take emergency jurisdiction of the children because of the imminent danger to the mother and children if they were to return to California and arguing that New York was the more convenient forum. SBLS also argued that New York had jurisdiction over the family offense proceeding because domestic violence had occurred in New York in the form of hundreds of threatening phone calls and voice mail messages the husband had made to the client shortly after she moved to New York. Additionally, SBLS filed for child support on behalf of Ms. K, as Mr. K refused to support her or the children, despite his six figure salary.

In January, 2008, Kings County Family Court took emergency jurisdiction of the custody case and issued a temporary order of protection against the husband on behalf of the client and her children. The client and her children will now be able to remain in Brooklyn while she is litigating the custody case, instead of having to return to California where she has no support, family, home or job. SBLS was also able to secure a child support award that allows Ms. K to support herself and her children while she continues to engage in social services she needs to transition to a life free of violence. Ms. K is now safe, and her children are receiving the services they need.

(Family Law/Domestic Violence)

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