As told by LIFT Attorney Nathalie Gonzalez
When I first met Eduardo, it was the loving way he spoke about his sister, Sonja, that moved me. She had recently passed away from Covid-19 complications and her son, Eduardo’s nephew Victor, was his primary concern. Together with Sonja, he had raised Victor since infancy. Eduardo said, “Victor doesn’t even know his biological father. I lived a block away from my sister and only went home to sleep. I was at every school function and every doctor’s appointment. He is my life.” Victor’s biological father, who had no interest in raising him, was nowhere to be found. Eduardo wanted full custody of Victor but was concerned that as an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador, he wouldn’t have a strong custody case. He was afraid that Victor would be taken away from him and sent to foster care. Among the devastation of this pandemic has been the hundreds of children left orphans, which has further exacerbated an already overstretched family court system. I advised Eduardo that his situation could be considered an “emergency” and I assisted him with the custody petition to get an emergency court date. After our first initial consultation, Eduardo was in tears. He told me that he “knocked on so many doors and that this was the first time someone had heard his story and was willing to help.” The court did, in fact, grant Eduardo a court date. The wonderful news is that Eduardo was granted a Final Order of Custody, giving him sole physical and legal custody of Victor and eliminating any barriers in caring for him. For the thousands of “Eduardo’s” in our court system, at risk and in fear of losing the children they love, LIFT is often their first stop in obtaining the counsel they need to move their case forward. Thank you for caring about those who often have no voice. LIFT supports equity and justice. One family at a time.