Julia Leon

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875,000 children a year – 12 per 1,000 — are either abducted or kidnapped by a relative.

Julia and Nicolas

Last year, 38-year-old Julia realized she needed a divorce. Her husband was verbally and physically abusive and had committed acts of violence in front of their 3-year-old son, Nicolas. Julia told her husband she wanted a divorce, but as the sole income provider for her family, she could not afford an attorney.

A few weeks later, Julia came home from a 12-hour waitressing shift to an empty home. She was devastated. Picture frames were turned upside down. Her son’s clothes and toys were missing. The horror set in as Julia realized her husband had taken her son.

She called the police, but they said there was nothing they could do since the child was taken by his own father. This was a civil issue.

“I was still going to work, afterwards coming home to an empty house, worrying about what would happen, and seeing my friends with their kids on social media,” said Julia.

She soon noticed that her husband had opened several credit cards in her name and maxed them out. Her husband continued to contact her, threatening that she needed to send him money or he would not be able to feed their child.

“I didn’t know I had any rights,” she said. “Then, Sunrise of Pasco County told me about Bay Area Legal Services.”

Attorney Jeff Grabel immediately went to work on the case. After Julia’s friends got word that her husband was in Tennessee, Jeff worked with the Deputy Clerk there to finalize an order. 

On July 3rd, 2020, Julia received the call from Bay Area Legal informing her that Nicolas was okay and that she could go and get him. She was ecstatic. She left for Tennessee the very next day, and on the morning of July 5th, Julia finally had her son in her arms. It had been four long months. 

It saved my son’s life. I'm finally able to be the best mom possible to my son and provide a safe, loving home for the both of us.”

Julia and Nicolas

Julia Leon, Former Client

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