April 2019 FUAN Advocate of the Month

FUANAdvocate of the Month, News & Events


FUAN would like to thank and congratulate Julya Brophy of Ankeny, IA on being named the April 2019 Advocate of the Month!

Julya is relatively new to the FUAN Family but jumped straight into the deep end proving she could swim with the best of them. She receives this recognition through the FUAN Board of Directors based on her recent articles, videos, advocacy, lobbying, recruiting, and overall energy she has brought to the Iowa Family Law Reform movement.

Picture of Julya Brophy

Julya Brophy is an Iowa native who is passionate about serving her community through multiple outlets. She has been a nanny for many families in the Des Moines area, a patient care tech at Blank Children's Hospital, and a “floating” certified nursing assistant for nursing homes throughout Des Moines. Julya currently is a tutor, co-owner of her husband's art studio, and most importantly… a mother.

In 2010, with the dream of pursuing a career in Pediatric Nursing, Julya graduated high school and moved to Des Moines. She was eager to do her part in helping and healing the fragile population that she cared so much about. Des Moines Area Community College was said to have the best nursing program in the area, so she began attending in the fall of 2010.

Because the nursing program was full, with a two-year wait, Julya graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 2011. After graduation, she took two courses in Certified Nursing Assistant training, which gave her the title of “Advanced Certified Nursing Assistant.”

While Julya was waiting to get into the Nursing program, (at the beginning of CNA training), she found out that she was pregnant. She was excited to become a mom, and her boyfriend was thrilled to become a dad. The two got married just a few months later.

Julya still planned to continue with a career in nursing and had plans in place to attend night classes when the baby was born. Suddenly, all of Julya's dreams for her family came to a crashing halt when the radiologist found something wrong with their baby at the 18-week ultrasound.


Their precious baby girl would be born with her intestines on the outside of her body due to a birth defect called “gastroschisis.” This drastic turn of events brought the couple through many highs and lows. With the initial diagnosis, they were scared. Later, the specialists assured them that their little girl might come early on her own and would need surgery at birth (or shortly after); but most importantly, the baby would be just fine after an extended stay in the NICU.

In August 2012, five weeks before her due date, the baby girl made her entrance naturally. Julya and that baby girl's father were thrilled because the birth went so well! Dad was able to cut the umbilical cord, and Julya was able to hold the baby's hand before the surgical team took over. Not long after, the surgeon revealed that the baby would not survive. She was not born with sufficient intestines and what she had was not viable.

To make a very long and agonizing story short, by a miracle that the doctors could not explain, the baby girl had a spontaneous recovery. Five weeks later, they brought the baby girl home. Both Julya and her husband had a great relationship with their little girl, beginning with bonding in the NICU, never leaving the baby's side.

Unfortunately, Julya and her husband's relationship ended in separation and divorce less than two years later.

Julya was horrified about the effects that divorce might have on their beautiful little girl, who had already suffered so much trauma due to the birth defect, surgery, and a long stay in the NICU. When Julya's first lawyer had encouraged her to empty bank accounts, cut communication, and “get full-custody,” Julya instinctively felt that this path would only bring more trauma into their little girl's life.

She never went back to that attorney again, not knowing what to do next. Julya diligently sought out answers about how to protect her child from the negative effects of divorce even though she was not on good terms with her husband and even though emotions were high.

Image of Julya Brophy - Family-Friends - FUAN AOM April 2019

Julya finally came to the conclusion that an uncontested divorce would be the best option. She knew that above everything, she wanted her daughter to maintain a close bond with both parents. Before a divorce can be finalized in Iowa, both parties must attend a “Children in the Middle Class.”

Julya learned valuable information in this class. The research presented about the benefits of shared custody, compared to sole custody, for the health and well-being of the child truly solidified her decision to seek even ground regarding parenting despite the advice of the first lawyer.

Four years later, Julya says that even though parenting with a person who is no longer your spouse can be challenging at times, the bonds that the child shares with both Mom and Dad have a positive effect on the child.

She recommends that every separated or divorced parent take some sort of “Children in the Middle” class or co-parenting class to learn how divorce and separation affect the child, and how you can work to prevent further trauma.

Julya never expected to be an advocate for children affected by divorce, but she has seen the way that animosity, prevention of bonding, and selfish attitudes are negatively affecting children in her community while her own child thrives with two loving (separated) parents. She has recently become aware that the issue is multifaceted with many systems contributing to the problem: outdated laws, the profitable business that divorce and custody battles generate, and other related interest groups.

Julya is happy to have found that FUAN is working toward the same goal, and plans to come alongside this organization in the name of protecting children's and families' rights!

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