A mother of young children sought pro bono representation in her family law matter.
She was employed and trying to provide stability for her children. She was also the victim of domestic violence. The father of the children assaulted their mother in the presence of the children inflicting serious injuries to her face and causing her to miss two weeks of work.
Pro bono attorney, Ramona Chaplin, stepped in to represent her. Chaplin describes the situation.
What were the basic facts of your case?
My client, the custodial parent, was seeking child support, majority timesharing and supervised visitation of minor children with their father.
What were you able to accomplish for your client?
Thankfully, my client prevailed and accomplished her all of her goals. She was awarded child support, majority timesharing with the father’s minor children and supervised visitation occurring at the Family Nurturing Center. My client was also awarded past-due child support and reimbursement for uncovered medical expenses.
Why was the outcome important to your client?
The order gave my client peace of mind and financial assistance in meeting the needs of the children. She’s trying to provide a safe and stable home for her children and the terms of the final judgment will go a long way in helping her accomplish that.
Why was the experience important to you? That is, what did you gain from the experience?
I have gained humility and an increased ability to empathize from my involvement with pro bono work. Through my involvement, I have the opportunity to understand better how a few hours of my time can have a significant impact on others.
What is the name of your firm? In what areas do you practice?
My firm is called the Law Offices of Ramona S. Chaplin, P.A. I practice in the areas of family law, personal injury, bankruptcy and probate.
What advice do you have for other attorneys considering pro bono involvement?
Get involved. We are fortunate to be lawyers (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). We are among the lucky few to survive all obstacles of becoming lawyers. We are among the few who can make the legal system work for people who have nothing to give us but their gratitude.
Because of the work of Chaplin and the hundreds of pro bono attorneys in Northeast Florida, low-income people are being heard. Their causes are presented before an impartial judge with the benefit of counsel even though the client can’t pay for the services of an attorney.
It’s incumbent upon attorneys, as officers of the court and guardians of our judicial system, to help ensure there is no price tag on justice and that zealous advocates represent both sides of an issue.
Sincere appreciation is extended to Chaplin and the many others stepping forward to assist in pro bono civil representation of the poor.
For more information on pro bono opportunities in the 4th Judicial Circuit and beyond, contact Kathy Para, chair of The Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee at [email protected].