After 15 years of separation, Frank Enos, 61, finally got his closure – the divorce papers that legally terminated his 25-year marriage. His wife had left him in their Mountain View home on Hawaii Island and moved to Kona. She took their four children with her.
“They had a bad history and there may have been domestic violence,” according to Haunani Magalianes, Paralegal, Hawai‘i Island Office.
Frank had been trying to get a divorce for a long time but Hawai‘i Island didn’t have pro bono lawyers that could represent him. The last lawyer he talked to lost his license. He was frustrated.
Frank thought the divorce would never happen until he connected with Legal Aid. We opened his case in March 2022 and closed in September.
It was an uncontested divorce, there was no hearing, and his estranged wife quickly signed the divorce decree.
“He was pretty high strung and stressed when he first came to us because this has been going on for a long time,” Haunani said. “But when I talked to him after the case was closed, he was low key, and seems happy and very thankful.”
Finally, the weight of uncertainty was lifted off of Frank’s shoulders.
Though his income is very minimal, he can now send financial support to one child who is still under 18. (He was unable to send child support before because he did not know their address.) His life is now more stable.
“Legal Aid helped me to sleep better at night,” said Frank. “They were a very big help. I could never get my divorce if it wasn’t for the help from Legal Aid. Thank you very much.”
Access to legal services is extremely limited on Hawai‘i Island (including other neighbor islands) making it difficult for many elderly and low-income individuals get a divorce decree, said Haunani.
“Legal Aid is very vital in every community,” she added. “We don’t have attorneys here to represent people with no financial means. Some start their cases but there is no closure. So when we can come in and help our seniors, it is a good feeling.”