Working with attorneys
There are many ways for advocates to assist attorneys who are representing
survivors in interstate custody and domestic violence cases.
First, advocates may provide support to survivors throughout the civil legal
process, which can be lengthy and draining. Many batterers attempt to continue
to control their former victims through the use of legal proceedings. For
instance, batterers may file repeated motions to modify custody or visitation
orders, petition for protection orders against victims, or harass children
during court-ordered visits to gain information about survivors. Advocates can
help survivors deal with the emotional effects of these behaviors. They also can
help other civil justice system personnel to understand that these actions are
another form of abuse.
Second, where survivors request assistance, advocates can help collect
documentation for survivorsí legal cases, especially evidence of the history of
abuse. Such evidence could include, for example: prior court orders; protection
order transcripts; police reports; medical records; school records for children;
witnesses; criminal history records of batterers, etc. This support can assist
survivors to provide their attorneys with the evidence necessary for the case
and allows attorneys to concentrate on the legal aspects of the case.
Third, advocates may be able to help survivors to take the practical steps
necessary to be prepared for custody litigation. This may require assistance
navigating other systems, such as child protective services, university
financial aid or academic offices, or housing, substance abuse or parenting
programs. By assisting survivors to put economic or child-related services in
place, advocates can help survivors strengthen their legal cases.
Finally, not all attorneys who represent survivors in custody cases are familiar
with domestic violence, including its effects on survivors and their children
and its impact on the custody case itself. Experienced advocates can educate
attorneys about these issues and help them to find technical assistance
providers and other resources with information that can improve their
representation of survivors.