On December 8, 2016, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP) selected litigation associate Kristin M. Whidby as one of two Law Firm Volunteer Attorneys of the Year for her outstanding work litigating a case before the Domestic Relations Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on behalf of Ms. B, a pro bono client. Ms. Whidby was assigned the case through DCVLP after Ms. B's original counsel was unable to continue with the matter. Despite being assigned to the case about a month before trial, Ms. Whidby successfully obtained sole legal custody and primary physical custody for Ms. B of her three-year-old son, which also included specific terms related to visitation by the child's father.
The custody case originally stemmed from an incident of domestic violence during which Ms. B's then boyfriend, and father of her child, physically abused her in December of 2015. Ms. B obtained a temporary, and later, a permanent restraining order against her ex-boyfriend and then applied for assistance with the custody battle through the DCVLP. Ms. B and her ex-boyfriend each initially sought full legal and physical custody of the child in common. At trial, Ms. Whidby had to completely change trial strategy at least twice to accommodate both judge's expressed desire to award joint custody despite the incident of domestic violence and the ex-boyfriend's radical shift in what he was asking the court to award. Ms. Whidby ended up presenting three witnesses, including Ms. B, and many pieces of documentary evidence. In the end, this was enough to convince the judge that Ms. B should be awarded sole legal and primary physical custody of the child.
Ms. Whidby was assisted in this matter by summer associate Sean Conlen. Ms. Whidby also received tremendous support from her DCVLP supervisor, Sara Tennen.
The DC Volunteer Lawyers Project was founded in 2008 by Jenny Brody, Karen Barker Marcou and Marla Spindel to help address the unmet family law needs of low-income people in Washington, DC, by recruiting, training and supporting volunteer attorneys to handle family law cases. Click here to learn more about learn more about DCVLP.