In the U.S., people are not legally entitled to a lawyer in civil (non-criminal) cases, no matter how dire the situation. That means that with cases concerning domestic violence, people must pay out of pocket or attempt to represent themselves in court. For people living in poverty, paying for these legal services is often out of the question. That’s where Atlanta Legal Aid comes in. We help increase access to justice for low-income people in and around Atlanta by providing free legal guidance and representation.
When speaking about her experience in attempting to get a divorce from an abusive husband, one woman, Marleny, explained, “They said, ‘You have to come back with an attorney,’” she recalled. “‘You cannot see the judge without an attorney.’” Her case, which involved custody of her son and their shared home, was too complicated for her to navigate on her own. “I couldn’t do it without an attorney, and I couldn’t afford an attorney,” Marleny said. “I was at a point where I felt like everything was over.” Although this woman is not a client of Atlanta Legal Aid, her story is very similar to the thousands of people we help in cases related to domestic violence every year.
Legal aid services are vital for so many women2 who need to secure divorces and protections against their abusive spouses, as well as to secure custody of their children and safe housing after they legally separate from their abusers. However, the demand for these services far exceeds the supply of legal aid attorneys. This is a complicated issue, but one solution is to help fund the services that provide protection and relief to these women. Atlanta Legal Aid is one such organization.
Every year, Atlanta Legal Aid assists over a thousand victims of domestic violence in securing legal protection for themselves and their children. Although people can represent themselves in matters concerning domestic violence, it helps to have a legal advocate who knows the law and court protocol. We help low-income people obtain legal protection against their abusers.
Browse the other articles and resources in this series to learn more about the widespread effects of domestic violence, as well as some of the solutions and ways that you can make an impact.
- A Lawyer May Be the Best Way to Stop Domestic Violence
- Domestic Violence Can Be Prevented
- 10 Steps to Getting Legal Protection Against an Abuser in Georgia
- Children Can Recover After Witnessing Domestic Violence
To see if you or someone you know qualifies for legal assistance from Atlanta Legal Aid, visit atlantalegalaid.org/contact-2/ and call the office nearest to you.
To make a donation to help support this vital work, click the button below.
2 It’s important to note that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, and that men also experience abuse in the home. For the purposes of these resources, we will refer often to women, as women are statistically more likely to experience domestic violence.