The right to be heard-Help Enrique!

Our legal system, although it tries, is not structured to allow equal representation.  Those who are at a disadvantage in life are often at risk of disadvantage in the legal system.  My son, Enrique, is running afoul of this.  He turned 18 this year and he has Asperger’s, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, as well as a sleep disorder which prevents him from being awake more than 2 to 8 hours per day.  He is in no way capable of being self-supporting.  Enrique’s father has made application to have financial support to Enrique cease because Enrique is 18 and therefore “should” be self-supporting.  Legally, a person who is unable to be self-sufficient, by reason of a few factors, one of which is disability, is due financial support from their parents.  I am trying to have Enrique’s situation heard in the legal system so as to have legitimate, meaning hearing both sides of the story, consideration of Enrique’s father’s application.

Because Enrique is special needs, and thus “different”, his situation requires more than a standard application.  I am Enrique's legal guardian.  Since February I have spent over $10,000 of my funds in legal fees to protect Enrique's right to be heard and to actualize having his story heard.  I have also spent considerable resources in time and energy.  This has been on the “mediation” stage.  To proceed through the next stage, the “arbitration” stage, will cost $10,000 more for our (his) legal representation and at least $3000 for the arbitrator.   This is with financial accommodations from my (Enrique’s) legal representation.  None of what is said during mediation is brought forward to arbitration so if we do not continue none of Enrique's information will be considered in the decision making process.

$5000 of the funds for my (Enrique’s) representation are due immediately, the remaining $5000 will be due by mid-November.  The $3000 or more for the arbitrator will come due between now and mid-January, with the bulk of it coming due this calendar year. 

We have used up the entirety of our savings as well as what other resources we had in order to fight the battle  to have Enrique's voice heard to date. 

The Mediation scheduled for this fall and in which we have recently engaged should have been the opportunity to present Enrique’s voice, but it was not.  Enrique is not typical, so to hear of his situation takes attention, space, and time, none of which are status quo in our legal process, not even in so-called mediation.  Mediation can be terminated at the request of any of the involved parties.  Enrique’s father terminated mediation within two hours of its start, blocking, with full support of the system, any opportunity for Enrique’s voice to be heard at that stage, and requiring continuation to the next, more expensive, stage.

The next stage in this process is Arbitration.  Although less costly than court Arbitration is still costly, and again, in atypical situations it is even more so.   We have managed to reduce the costs by about 80%, to the $10,000 for my counsel and approximately $3000 - $4000 for the arbitrator quoted above,  where it is possible for my husband and I to conceive of proceeding while still being able to live.  But given our significant reductions in incomes since the beginning of this year, the depletion of our savings to date, and the abruptness of the requirement for these funds, financing this next stage will be a considerable challenge.  But, if we do not proceed none of the information provided to date will be included in the arbitrator’s consideration of the situation and Enrique’s voice will not be heard.  Hence this campaign. 

 All of the funds raised by this campaign will go directly towards our (Enrique’s) upcoming legal fees.  The arbitration will proceed with or without Enrique’s participation.  If we can not find the resources for his legal fees Enrique’s voice will not be presented and any decisions reached will be reached in the absence of his voice.

We are committed to ensuring that Enrique’s voice is heard.  To accomplish this we are pulling our funding from all “extra” expenses, as well as the entirety of our credit.  This will result in some casualties of activities, casualties which should not be necessary in order to accomplish what is a fundamental human right, the right to be heard.  Every little bit done here will help to lessen those unnecessary casualties.  For example, four people at $5 will preserve Enrique's weekly independent lunches at Subway's, where he gets to work on independent ordering and paying for food, for one week.  Three people at $20 will save one of Enrique’s weekly wall climbing sessions with his support person.  Five people at $50 will save his registration for the next session of his equine therapy.  Enrique, like everybody else, has a right to be heard.  The premium required to make this happen should not happen at the expense of Enrique’s day to day activities.  But we no longer have the resources to accomplish this on our own.  Please contribute, or pass this message along, and help a person in need have his voice heard, without the sacrifice of his day to day life.

If you have any questions or would like to donate financially in a way other than via VISA or Mastercard, such as via PayPal, please contact me directly at [email redacted]

Thank-you for taking the time to read this campaign and for any contribution you provide. 

Erika, on behalf of Enrique.

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Erika Gomez 
Calgary, AB
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