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Group Improves Legal Help for Survivors of Domestic Violence

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Friday, May 24, 2019   

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The path to normalcy for domestic-violence survivors is long and emotional – so the Family Law Self-Help Center at the Las Vegas family courthouse has found a way to speed things up.

Before, survivors had to apply for a domestic-violence protection order in one office – then go explain the situation again to staff in another office in order to file for divorce, custody or guardianship. Help center Directing Attorney Stephanie McDonald says the center has recently combined those services under one roof – so it's now a one-stop shop.

"Victims of domestic violence, they experience something very personal, very upsetting, very traumatic,” says McDonald. “This helps reduce their confusion and reduces the number of people in the courthouse that they have to interact with in order to get the kind of assistance that they're looking for."

The problem of domestic violence persists in Nevada. The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence's 2017 report showed that victims contacted domestic violence programs more than 63,000 times that fiscal year, and those agencies prepared more than 10,000 temporary protection orders.

The protection-order program in Las Vegas alone sees 1,300 people a month, and the Family Law Self-Help Center overall sees 4,500 clients a month. McDonald says streamlining the process speeds up the timeline for victims and their children to get stabilized.

"So, by having people be able to talk to us now about the protection-order side of it and the long-term divorce and custody side of it,” says McDonald, “we can give them more information about options they're going to have to address the custody issues with the children who are being the subjects of abuse, or just merely in the presence of abuse, which can be just as damaging to them."

Victims can find a rundown of the entire process of domestic-violence temporary protection orders online at familylawselfhelpcenter.org.

Disclosure: Coalition of Legal Services Programs contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Disabilities, Health Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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