ELLEN became pregnant as an 18 year old high school student. Ellen worked extra hard in her classes so she could graduate before the baby was born, enrolled in prenatal care, followed all the doctor's instructions, and met regularly with a public health nurse.
Although her son's father started treating her worse and worse throughout the pregnancy – threatening her, calling her a "fat bitch", accusing her continually of cheating on him, smoking marijuana, giving her an STD – Ellen continued trying to cooperate with him. After her baby's birth, however, Ellen knew she needed to protect him. The baby's father repeatedly showed up at Ellen's house in the middle of the night insisting that he had the right to come see "his son" whenever he wished; he threw things at Ellen, threatened to take the baby, shook the baby in his car seat, and yelled at her. A week after the baby's birth, he filed a custody case in another county. Ellen's public health nurse referred her to Legal Aid's Teen Parents Project.
The attorney helped Ellen file a successful motion to change venue, moving the custody case to the county where Ellen and the baby lived and then, when her baby's father became even more violent and threatening, helped Ellen file for a domestic violence restraining order and custody, visitation, and support orders.
After many court appearances – and further violence and misbehavior by Ellen's baby's father – the court granted Ellen's request for a restraining order, placed the baby in Ellen's custody, ordered the father to pay child support and complete a parenting class, and made visitation orders that protected both Ellen and the baby. Ellen has gotten a part-time job and finally feels safe in her own home.
Thanks to the generous support of donors like you, Legal Aid continues to help other teens like Ellen.