Legal Services of the Hudson Valley
Women's History Month
This Women's History Month, we recognize the disproportionate effect that poverty has on women in the United States. According to the National Women's Law Center's analysis of 2014 poverty data,*
Women of all races, ages, and other demographic and economic groups have a higher likelihood of being poor than their male counterparts
A female-headed family with children is almost twice as likely as a male-headed family with children to be living below the poverty rate
Women 65 and over are more than twice as likely as men over 65 to be living in poverty
These women represent a majority of the clients that LSHV serves:
69% of our clients in 2015 were women
77% of those women are heads of household
11% of those women were over the age of 65 when they came to LSHV
For someone without the resources to pay for an attorney, a legal issue can spiral into homelessness, loss of income or employment, gaps in education for children, and reduced access to other basic needs. Financial security is also often a barrier that prevents survivors of domestic violence from escaping their abuser. Not only are they unable to afford an attorney that could secure orders of protection and child custody, they are also unable to pay for housing, food, and other basic necessities of life.
18% of LSHV's female clients were survivors of domestic violence
LSHV handled 2,061 cases that involved domestic violence, impacting 1,781 individuals under the age of 18 years old
Kate** is one such survivor of domestic violence. Kate fled from her ex-husband when her son Aidan* was just a few weeks old. Aidan is a hemophiliac – his blood doesn’t clot on its own – and Kate feared for Aidan's safety during a particularly extreme display of violence by his father. It was a continuation of the abuse that Kate's ex-husband had subjected her to throughout their relationship, but that night, Kate knew that she had to escape for her son's sake.
Kate filed for custody of her three-week old son, but her petition was dismissed. A few months later, she was referred to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, and Kate and her attorney filed for custody of Aidan and for an order of protection from his father. She was issued a temporary order of protection, but her ex-husband had moved to another state to evade service of the court papers. Although Kate was working three jobs to support her son, she and her attorney appeared in court numerous times and ultimately succeeded in serving her ex-husband, despite his absence from court.
Kate was finally granted sole legal and physical custody of Aidan and a five-year permanent order of protection against his father, successfully ending her year-long legal case. Now living free from fear, Kate says that Aidan is happy and doing well, and that she is forever grateful to her attorney and to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley for protecting her and her son.