Legal Resources

Family Law Legal Resources

Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage)

One of the most common areas of law in which domestic violence comes up is in family law cases. What does that mean for you as an attorney? These resources will help you devise ways to appropriately screen for domestic violence, offer ways to most effectively and safely communicate with and represent your client, and answer common questions, like “How can you use evidence of domestic violence to secure the most equitable property award, especially in no-fault divorce jurisdictions?”

Child Custody
A domestic violence victim’s attorney’s role in advocating for safe and effective child custody orders, with provisions for safe visitation exchanges, cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that between 25% and 50% of disputed custody cases involve domestic violence, and the abuse will continue even after separation and/or divorce, frequently during visitation exchanges with the children. The following resources will help you better understand the issues that come up for victims seeking custody, what legal obstacles they face, and how to overcome them.

Child Support
There are myriad issues that arise when considering child support orders in cases in which there is domestic violence perpetrated by one parent against another. Because economic dependence is one of the biggest factors preventing victims from being able to safely leave an abusive spouse, securing child support for your client is a top priority. However, what happens when a victim tells you that seeking child support services could actually endanger her or her children? How do you apply for a good cause exemption? How do you help your client collect arrears? What if one or both parents is incarcerated and unable to earn an income? You will need to think creatively, and help your client consider both legal and non-legal alternatives, while prioritizing safety.

Some of the dangers of seeking child support enforcement include:

  • Possibility of alerting the abuser to her location
  • Bringing victim and abuser in close proximity during courtroom proceedings
  • Possible anger from abuser when automatic procedures are implemented, including wage withholding and license suspension
  • Collection of child support could illicit abusive response from child’s father or abusive partner who feels threatened by any financial independence

In these cases, help your client apply for a good cause exemption and make sure to conduct a safety plan.


Other Legal Resources

Domestic violence will impact and shape the legal needs of victims across all areas of the law. The following links provide attorneys from a broad range of legal specialties with the resources needed to provide competent legal representation to clients experiencing relationship abuse.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order
A client may decide to seek a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO), a court order intended to protect victims of domestic violence from experiencing further abuse. The following resources provide information on how to apply for a DVRO in California, as well as information on DVRO laws in other states in the U.S.

Immigration
Immigrant victims of domestic violence — whether documented or undocumented — face unique challenges to accessing safety and resources. The Violence Against Women Act created specific legal remedies designed to enhance and protect the rights of immigrants who are experiencing relationship abuse. The following resources will provide you with a basic understanding of what legal remedies are available for immigrant victims.

Consumer Law

Employment

For Judges

Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 (Title IX) provides, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence, is prohibited conduct under Title IX; therefore, educational institutions that receive federal funds are obligated to take proactive steps to prevent sexual violence on campus and address its effects on students. The following resources offer guidance for university legal counsel on how to best comply with the requirements set forth under Title IX.

A Note on Terminology

Domestic violence/relationship abuse refers to intimate relationships, not child abuse. Because the vast majority of relationship abuse is committed by men against women in heterosexual relationships, this website sometimes contains the female gender pronoun when referring to the abused person. Domestic violence/relationship abuse happens at the same rate in LGBTQQ relationships and all of the information on this site is relevant for male victims and for individuals in same-gender relationships. In addition, please see our resources on same-gender relationships. Our goal is to encourage helping professionals to be gender inclusive. This includes using gender-neutral language when working with individuals, while continuing to analyze gender as a construct that has implications on gender-based violence in both heterosexual and same-gender relationships.