Each year in the United States, 1.3 million women are assaulted by an intimate partner, and three women die every die because of domestic violence. While there are many causes of domestic violence, one way to help victims is to offer them legal assistance whether they can pay for it or not. Currently, a victim of domestic violence is not automatically granted access to legal counsel.
When a victim tries to move for legal custody of a child or other protective orders, that is considered a civil case. However, those facing criminal charges of domestic violence are guaranteed an attorney as they attempt to dispute the charge in court. This means that a victim pursuing civil action may need to face a complex legal system on their own if he or she cannot afford an attorney.
Allowing victims of domestic violence greater access to civil legal aid may reduce incidents of such violence and save lives. Without access to an attorney, it may be next to impossible to secure a protective order or to successfully petition for spousal support. Having legal counsel may also point victims in the direction of other resources that may help them overcome their abusers and start a new life in a safe environment.
A person who has been a victim of domestic violence may wish to seek the assistance of an attorney who has experience with these matters. An attorney may be able to help secure temporary protective orders, which may keep an abuser away from his or her victim. It may also be possible to pursue spousal or child support orders while also terminating or suspending an abuser’s parental rights.