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Family Law Clinic Clients Find Favor in Divorce Proceedings

Family Law Clinic professors, Rob Zielinski and Phillip Mohr, with their students from the 2021-2022 clinic.

The DePaul College of Law Family Law Clinic provides legal assistance with marriage, divorce, invalidity of marriage, legal separation, parentage, and adoption through a partnership with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (“CVLS”). All work in the Family Law Clinic (“Clinic”) is performed under the supervision of Clinic co-directors Profs. Phil Mohr and Rob Zielinski. Here are some updates from the divorce cases worked on by Clinic participants this academic year:

Client 1 and her husband married in 2013. They lived together until the end of 2015 when they separated due to the husband’s substance abuse. Client had no choice but to move back in with her family in Chicago. In 2021, Client sought representation in her divorce case. She hoped to legally formalize the end of her marriage. Clinic participant Alexis Beamon conducted an initial intake interview of Client and recommended representation to the rest of the Clinic. The class agreed and Alexis filed Client’s case and had the husband served. After the husband failed to file an appearance or response, Alexis proceeded to a prove up hearing in the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. She elicited testimony from her client via Zoom, and the Court granted Client’s request for a divorce from her spouse. Thanks to Alexis, Client was able to achieve a much-needed fresh start.

Client 2 is a senior who needed help resolving a divorce case. When he reached out to CVLS, Client had been married to his wife for nearly 40 years, but they had been separated for over 30. Client did not have the resources to hire an attorney, so he tried to navigate the court process by himself without much success. He struggled to electronically file his case and with appearing remotely for court. Third-year law student, Hoyeon Yoo, interviewed Client and presented his case to the Clinic. The students voted for representation, and his case was placed with fellow classmate, Olivia Kappers. Olivia filed Client’s case and took on direct representation. Knowing that technology was a challenge for Client, Olivia helped him install Zoom on his smartphone and practiced with him ahead of time. On the day of the prove up hearing, Olivia was able to achieve her client’s goal of getting divorced without a single technological issue.

When Client 3 sought CVLS for legal representation, she had already filed for divorce against her husband. Although the parties had no property or other assets, Client wanted sole decision-making and primary parenting time of her two minor children. After several court dates as a self-represented litigant, Client’s judge noticed several errors and told her to find a lawyer to draft her final documents. Client contacted CVLS for pro bono legal services, and her case was assessed by the Clinic. Olivia Kappers, a 3L in the Clinic, met with Client and reviewed her paperwork. Finding that Client was nearly at the finish line, Olivia revised Client’s final judgment and represented her at a final Zoom hearing. Client was awarded a divorce as well as sole allocation of parental responsibilities and majority parenting time. Due to Olivia’s advocacy, Client now has the security of knowing her children are safe with her. CVLS is happy to say that Olivia has plans to continue volunteering with CVLS after law school.

Client 4 filed her Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and managed to get her husband served, but when it came time to finalize her divorce, the Court recommended that she hire an attorney. Unable to afford private legal representation, Client contacted CVLS for pro bono assistance. Client’s case was relatively straightforward, but she needed help navigating the process and creating a parenting plan for her two young boys. DePaul 3L, Hoyeon Yoo, performed Client’s intake interview and agreed to represent her. Hoyeon drafted all of the necessary documents for Client and reviewed her options for relief through a default divorce case. To the client’s satisfaction, Hoyeon was able to negotiate an agreement between the parties and proceed with the timely finalization of their divorce. Hoyeon elicited testimony from Client in court and she is excited to continue volunteering with CVLS during the summer.​