Kacey Bailey“He made me feel like I was nothing.”

Kacey Bailey describes her experience living with her abusive ex-husband before reaching out to Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) for assistance in early 2015. After two years of attempting to file for divorce on her own, Kacey turned to LASC for help with securing safety and stability. Her husband had been charged criminally for assaulting her and two of the couple’s four children, and Kacey’s situation was dire. She had tried to fix the problem by herself, but navigating the domestic court on her own proved terribly intimidating for Kacey, whose husband had continually made her feel stupid. “I couldn’t pay for an attorney on my own,” she recalls. “If it weren’t for Legal Aid, I don’t think I would have gotten a divorce.”

Fortunately, the mother of four and grandmother of one was linked with Domestic Team Managing attorney Stu Itani, who promptly secured a Civil Protection Order, preventing her abusive husband from contacting her and the children.  Kacey was then introduced to Domestic Team staff attorney Kathi Schear, who worked with her to obtain a divorce so that she could finally move on. When both parties agree to all terms, a “pro se” divorce without representation is possible, but Kacey’s case had proven complicated due to an issue with her husband’s failure to supply accurate information to the IRS and accruing a debt that exceeded $50,000. Possession of the family home also proved to be a sticking point, but through Kathi’s persistence and advocacy, Kacey was granted exclusive use of the premises during a two-year consent period, and her husband was made responsible for the tax debt.

As a result of the CPO and divorce, Kacey’s life and the lives of her children have been transformed: “My children went from being scared of everything to smiling and loving life. Whenever I left the house before, they would worry, and today, they tell me to go have fun. My 10-year-old used to shake when her dad was around. Now, she can actually be a kid and not feel like she has to take care of her mother.”

Kacey’s advice to others in her position is simple: “If you feel like you can’t do it, there are people out there who will help. Legal Aid does amazing things for people who can’t do it for themselves.”

Kacey’s LASC attorney Kathi Schear truly went “above and beyond,” in her eyes. “Kathi has been amazing. I could email her in the middle of the night and she would get right back to me. She has been like a friend.”

Stu and Kathi not only changed Kacey’s life, but they treated her in a way that made her feel valued and important. “Neither of them made me feel below them. They always made me feel like I was something, and I’ve always been made to feel like I’m nothing.”

Kacey’s story is not unique. Many other low-income women and men who are made to feel like nothing seek vital legal assistance with their civil legal issues, and LASC is here to help. Kacey and her children can now breathe easier, worry less, and focus on a better future.

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