Photo of Emily Neely

Emily Neely

  • Hosted by Legal Aid of West Virginia
  • Sponsored by Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts grant to Equal Justice Works
  • Service location Martinsburg, West Virginia
  • Law school West Virginia University College of Law
  • Issue area Opioid Epidemic
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Emily (she/her/hers) will provide alternative dispute resolution services in West Virginia to low-income families with a focus on family law matters in which a biological parent is suffering from substance use disorder.

West Virginia is one of the most opioid-impacted states in the country. This epidemic has affected many West Virginians and, as a result, catalyzed family law issues such as custody disputes which often result in children being placed with other family members. Currently, the only avenue available to low-income West Virginians for addressing these disputes is an adversarial court process wherein family members are pitted against one another and incentivized to shed a negative light on the opposing party. This process often results in a dissolution of the family and trauma to the children involved. These families need a non-adversarial, neutral environment to discuss their concerns and reach a mutually acceptable agreement that is in the best interest of all the parties involved.

Fellowship Plans

Emily will be providing alternative dispute resolution processes for opioid-impacted families to resolve their family law issues. She will be working directly with these families to better understand the needs of those suffering from substance use disorder, strengthen familial relationships, and facilitate mutually acceptable agreements. Emily will also be creating a referral network with established opioid crisis relief programs to provide educational materials to opioid-impacted families on the benefits of alternative dispute resolution for opioid-related family law issues.

Media

Helping Families Affected by Opioids

Growing up in West Virginia, I watched families fall apart due to opioid-related issues. I always believed those relationships could be rebuilt, and I wanted my legal career to provide opportunities for reunification.

Emily Neely /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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