“Ernesto” Story from Helpline Specialist Jairo Valencia
February 15, 2010 by Roberto Arjona
The fear of losing a child is terrifying for any parent. For “Ernesto” (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) this nightmare has become reality as he tirelessly fights for custody of his five-year-old son. This overwhelmed father in need recently called our bilingual toll-free helpline and shared his heart-wrenching story with Helpline Specialist Jairo Valencia.
The phone call revealed that Ernesto was a victim of domestic abuse and for that reason was forced to leave his home. His ex-wife has since denied access to their child despite his continued financial support. Desperate, Ernesto turned to the courts for help but was unable to garner neither legal representation nor a Spanish interpreter. These barriers prevented him from communicating to the judge that his ex-wife had a history of both domestic and alcohol abuse. After hearing their testimonies, the judge ruled in favor of the mother because Ernesto could not provide receipts documenting payments made to support their son.
Determined to protect his child, Ernesto will fight to have his case heard before a circuit court. Unsure of how to approach such a process, he turned to HAF for help. Jairo Valencia patiently listened to this father’s story and immediately connected him with organizations in the HAF Community Service Directory. These resources are located in his community and will provide counsel for Ernesto as he fights to overcome legal, cultural and social challenges in the battle for the wellbeing of his child.
Like the thousands of other people who call the HAF Helpline, Ernesto is in a difficult situation – but he is not alone. Jairo Valencia and the rest of the HAF team will continue to provide support to this father and will follow-up on his story.
by Janessa Nickell