DVLS Pro Bono Attorneys Assist Severely Ill Immigrant Mother With Custody

Latifah came from Africa to the United States on a student visa. At the time she entered the U.S. she was married and 34 weeks pregnant. After giving birth to the child Latifah experience serious problems with her heart which resulted in a heart transplant.

After Latifah had the heart transplant her parents came over from Africa to help her and the newborn baby. Latifah’s husband was not helping with the baby at all. In the interim he had met another woman and planned to leave Latifah and marry the other woman.

When her parents arrived the husband would not permit Latifah’s parents to bring the baby to the hospital to see her. He would not permit the parents to use Latifah’s car to drive back and forth to the hospital. He later sold the car even though Latifah made all the payments on it until she went into the hospital.

The husband then asked his parents to come over from Africa. When they arrived he gave them the baby and told it to take it back home with them. The paternal grandparents left with the baby and returned to Africa.

To further complicate matters, Latifah’s visa expired and her parents’ visas expired shortly thereafter. At this point in time someone called Delaware Volunteer Legal Services seeking help for this family. After speaking with the staff at DVLS, the luck of this family began to change.

DVLS placed the case with two of their long-time volunteer attorneys, David Haley and Gary Linarducci. David and Gary agreed to take the case to help Latifah’s family secure the return of the newborn baby.

Fate continued in favor of Latifah’s family with good news from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. INS chose Latifah’s mother’s name in a lottery for Green Cards. With a Green Card, Latifah’s mother and her immediate family could stay in the country legally. It also meant that they could file an action with the Court to force the return of the baby to Latifah.

In fear of his wife’s newly acquired rights and reports made by Latifah’s father to the FBI and other authorities, the husband instructed his parents to bring the baby back to the United States. David and Gary filed a Petition for Guardianship of Latifah. The Court granted Latifah’s parents guardianship due to Latifah’s poor health.

With guardianship over Latifah, her parents now have standing to file for custody of the newborn baby. The volunteer attorneys drafted and filed the petition with the Family Court and are waiting for the custody hearing.

Throughout this entire ordeal, David Haley and Gary Linarducci stuck by this family and did whatever possible to help them. They were patient and understanding and, as a result, changed this family’s life forever. Thanks to these volunteer attorney, Latifah is now able to see her child and be involved in her child’s life as any mother must be.

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