Legal assistance is an important step in ensuring the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children and helping them reclaim control of their lives. For many domestic violence survivors, the need for legal representation is particularly acute because many abusers continue to use their abuse tactics in the very courtrooms where survivors go to seek relief.
Who Can Participate?
Attorneys: After a 4-hour CLE that offers training on the dynamics of domestic violence, the statutes governing protective orders, and the mechanics of taking a case, attorneys can appear in court to help a survivor of violence obtain a 12-month protective order to shield a family from violence.
Law Students: Law students can volunteer or intern at the Safe Families Office. With a semester commitment of at least 10 hours per week, all students will conduct clients interviews, draft pleadings and orders, and safety plan with client in our walk-in office in the Fulton County Courthouse. Under the supervision of an AVLF attorney, 3Ls will also be able to represent clients in 12-Month Order Hearings.
Those who staff the Safe Families Office (SFO) meet with the more than 2,000 individuals who come to the SFO each year. AVLF staff and pro bono volunteers help visitors understand the legal options that are available to those seeking protection from intimate partner violence and stalking, and when appropriate, aid them in securing a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) that is effective for 30 days. Volunteer attorneys supported by AVLF staff represent victims seeking a twelve-month extension of that Temporary Order.
Victims may apply for a TPO, valid for up to thirty days, in an ex parte hearing on the day of their first visit. Clients are expected to return to court for a full evidentiary hearing approximately two weeks later in order to have the order extended for a year. Volunteer attorneys give clients the courage to return to court to confront an abuser and tell client stories that are too often impossible for victims to voice alone and unsupported.