Wilkinson Stekloff Secures Victory in Pro Bono Custody and Divorce Trial

Washington, D.C. — Following a six-day trial, Wilkinson Stekloff associates Cali Cope-Kasten and Hal Brewster secured a favorable judgment in a pro bono custody and divorce case in D.C. Superior Court.  The Court awarded Wilkinson Stekloff’s client primary residential custody and joint legal custody, with tiebreaker decision making authority, of her five minor children.  The judge also found that Wilkinson Stekloff’s client was entitled to an equitable lien on all major marital assets and awarded her a monetary judgment of more than a quarter-million dollars, along with ongoing child support that will help her establish financial independence in her new life.

Wilkinson Stekloff’s client separated from her husband in 2016 after multiple instances of abuse within the family.  After she filed for divorce, her estranged husband filed a countersuit in which he sought primary custody of their five children, so this is when she started looking into suitable law firms in order to assist her with fighting her case. Wilkinson Stekloff took on this pro bono representation as part of its ongoing partnership with the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Over the course of the six-day trial, the Wilkinson Stekloff trial team presented six affirmative witnesses, including the only expert witness in the case, and cross-examined five defense witnesses.  Based on this evidentiary record, Wilkinson Stekloff argued that it was in the children’s best interest for Wilkinson Stekloff’s client to retain primary custody and receive an equitable portion of the family’s valuable home, despite her name not appearing on the deed.  Three months after trial, the Court granted nearly all the client’s requested relief.  In her 41-page opinion, Judge Julie Becker credited the testimony of each of the witnesses Wilkinson Stekloff presented, as well as the strength of the Plaintiff’s arguments, in establishing her findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Cope-Kasten and Brewster led the Wilkinson Stekloff team under the supervision of partner Kosta Stojilkovic.  The team worked in conjunction with two attorneys from the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project.