News & Events

Story of Justice: Mahala*

Mahala* and Sam* met in the Middle East where Sam saved Mahala from a life of being trafficked in prostitution which began at the age of 11. Early in their relationship, it became clear that Sam’s physical violence was a habit. He would punch, slap and verbally abuse Mahala. He controlled her every move. Mahala felt trapped. But, her luck changed shortly after the family moved to the United States where women have equal rights.

After a particularly brutal domestic violence incident, the local police arrested Sam, and transported Mahala and her two children to a shelter in Palm Beach County. Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County immediately helped her obtain an Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence and filed for divorce on her behalf. Mahala was placed in emergency housing and started working as a nail technician. After getting served with the divorce, Sam also filed for divorce here in Broward County.

CCLA’s attempt to dismiss or transfer Sam’s divorce petition was unsuccessful, since Broward was the correct venue, so CCLA attorneys filed a counter-petition on behalf of Mahala. The Broward County judge appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to the divorce while a dependency action proceeded forward in Palm Beach. Throughout, the children remained in the care of Mahala. The Courts saw through Sam’s fabrications and exaggerations, granting Mahala’s requested relief in the divorce action, and resulting in a favorable outcome for Mahala and the children in the dependency case.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.