FAMILY & IMMIGRATION
STRENGTHENING FAMILY CONNECTIONS
LawLink: Family Safety and Stability strives to help individuals struggling to recover from domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or abandonment achieve safety and financial security. By breaking legal and financial times with the abuser, clients move towards economic self-sufficiency and gain the ability to create positive and safe home environments for themselves and their children.
Because the need for family law help is extremely high, we give priority to persons needing legal help to recover from domestic violence, sexual assault, or abandonment by a spouse upon whom they depended for survival. In addition, we assist immigrants who have been victims of family violence, human trafficking and other crimes, and immigrant children in need of care, to obtain stable immigration status.
Our goal is to provide holistic representation by addressing all of the legal problems that a client may have as a result of family abuse to ensure as full a recovery as possible.
Family Law Cases that we handle:
- Civil Protection Orders for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking (by a family member or someone else).
- Divorce and custody cases for victims of abuse or where children are at risk of abuse.
- Divorce cases for persons who – due to advanced age, disability or other barrier – are unable to support themselves without court-ordered financial support from their spouse.
- In partnership with the Volunteer Lawyer’s Project, the “Uncontested Divorce Clinic” for simple divorces with no minor children, no assets or debts, and no claim for spousal support.
Immigration Cases that we handle:
- Help for immigrants who are married to an abusive spouse who is a US citizen or permanent resident.
- “U Visas” for persons who have been victims of domestic violence or other serious crimes.
- “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” for immigrant children who are present in the US and in need of care due to the absence of one or both parents.
Family & Immigration Programs
Family Law Mentoring Project
Now in its fourth year, this program, offered in partnership with the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court, gives lawyers new to family law the benefit of supervision and mentoring by experienced domestic relations attorneys. The attorneys in each one-year program accept 5-6 family law cases pro bono and agree to continue accepting cases from the Volunteer Lawyers Project after the training year is over. As a result, Legal Aid’s capacity to assist clients in Hamilton County is expanded and the number of Domestic Relations bar members is increased.
Legal Aid, in partnership with the VLP, operates Divorce Clinics in six counties in our service area. This clinic model allows Legal Aid to assist low-income individuals with no disputed property or child custody issues obtain divorces. Specially trained Legal Aid paralegals work in tandem with private bar attorneys to provide pro bono service through the VLP. Our paralegals conduct the client interviews and prepare the court papers. Groups of 10-12 clients then come to Legal Aid on Clinic Day to meet with VLP pro bono attorneys who provide final document review. Then, thanks to special arrangements negotiated with Domestic Relations Courts, each group of Clinic cases is heard as part of a special docket in a single morning.
Family Law Clinic
The indigent and the working poor are the most vulnerable when facing an unfamiliar legal system during a time of emotional upheaval in their lives such as a divorce. Yet, Family courts are seeing a steady increase in the number of people who are representing themselves due to the inability to afford an attorney. To alleviate this situation, The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP), the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court and the Hamilton County Law Library created a new approach to help such individuals achieve a satisfactory outcome: the Family Law Clinic. Its goal is to provide limited legal advice, information and guidance for those who cannot afford full legal representation but have decided to file a case in Domestic Relations Court on their own.
Private attorneys and law students are volunteering at the clinic. Private attorneys have the option of providing their time through the VLP and thereby are eligible for CLE credit for pro bono activity and VLP malpractice coverage. Having Clinic volunteers assist individuals with their cases, improves both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the process, helping both the individual filer and the Court.
The Clinic is open Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is located in Room 2-68 of the Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court, 800 Broadway, in Cincinnati.
Public Interest Practice Lab
Legal Aid, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati-College of Law, recently created the Public Interest Practice Lab. In this program, students receive academic credit and complete 200 hours of service with Legal Aid over the course of the school year, dividing their time between the Divorce Clinics and a Wills and Estates Clinic. Two law students, who obtain a limited law license, are directed by Legal Aid staff and VLP attorneys. In the first year, they assisted 232 clients at 26 clinics. The participation of the UC Law students enables Legal Aid to serve a greater number of clients, both in the near-term and for the future as they become private attorneys who provide pro bono service to low-income families.
Civil Protection Order Clinic
LawLink continues to partner with the UC College of Law on the Domestic Violence Clinic, in which third year law students provide advice and courtroom representation to clients seeking protection orders against domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. In 2015, 97 women received advice and representation for civil protection orders.
Helping Families Seek Needed Protection
“Marta” separated from her partner and children’s father due to his increasing emotional abuse, jealousy, and attempts to control her behavior in and out of the home. After she left with the children, the partner’s behavior became threatening and erratic. He left her a series of voicemails and text messages threatening to kill himself, or Marta and her parents, or to take the children. Legal Aid assisted Marta in obtaining a civil protection order, which included protection for the children. As a result, her partner agreed to attend regular therapy, and was given supervised parenting time with the children. The Protection Order has prevented further threatening communication or actions against Marta, and she is able to monitor his contact with the children closely to ensure that it is safe and appropriate. When the case concluded, Marta wrote to her Legal Aid attorney: “My family and I thank you from the heart for your representation and support on this case. May you receive more blessings and success.”READ MORE SUCCESS STORIES