Domestic Violence Legal Assistance

Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project (DVLAP) is a project of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Inc., a not-for-profit legal services organization which has been providing free civil legal services to the area’s poor since 1923. With the DVLAP, LASNNY is able to provide a broad range of free civil legal services to victims of domestic violence who cannot afford private legal counsel. Our services include assistance with Family Court matters, such as Orders of Protection, Child and Spousal Support, Custody and Visitation. Additionally, we can assist victims of domestic violence with their legal problems related to public assistance, food stamps, housing (including landlord/tenant problems), consumer and employment issues. We also can provide you legal assistance to obtain a divorce. DVLAP staff will provide you with legal assistance with as many of your domestic violence-related civil legal problems as our resources permit.

This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-WL-AX-0012 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Domestic violence/abuse occurs in all types of intimate relationships and former relationships. Abuse does NOT have to be physical.

Who is a Victim of Domestic Violence?

If your partner controls you physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or economically, you may be a victim of domestic violence. Abuse does NOT have to be physical. Physical abuse may include hitting, punching, pushing, kicking, shoving, choking, strangling or physically restraining a person. However, domestic violence/abuse does not have to be physical. Domestic violence/abuse is about one person having power and control over the other in an intimate relationship, or a former intimate relationship. If your partner does things that restrict your personal freedom or that make you afraid, you may be a victim of domestic violence. Your partner may attempt to control you in ways other than physically abusing you.

Some of the tactics used by abusers are:

  • putting you down
  • calling you names and humiliating you in public or private
  • making you feel bad about yourself and your abilities
  • acting jealous and checking up on you, where you go or who you see
  • bossing you around, bullying you and not considering your opinion
  • forcing you to have sex or to perform sexual acts that you do not want to
  • bothering you at work or making it hard for you to work
  • isolating you from friends, family and co-workers
  • controlling your finances and the money you earn
  • using drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you
  • throwing things at you
  • threatening to “out” you
  • preventing you from taking your medications or seeing your doctor
  • using intimidation or threats to get you to do what she/he wants
  • blaming you for things which are not your responsibility or fault
  • threatening your immigration status

Domestic violence/abuse occurs in all types of intimate relationships and former relationships. Your abuser may be your current or former spouse, domestic partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, date, or the other parent of your child. You may be abused whether you are straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender. Domestic violence happens regardless of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, age, education, employment status, physical ableness, marital status or childhood history.

Who do we represent?

If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence, and you need help with a civil legal problem, please call the DVLAP. We are here to help. We will ask you questions to determine if our program is appropriate for you, and how we may be able to help you.

You do not have to be poor to qualify for DVLAP services. Although we have income guidelines for many of our programs at LASNNY, we can assist any domestic violence victim who cannot afford a lawyer, as our staff resources permit. Preferences may be given to those who have income below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.

You do not have to be a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident to receive services from the DVLAP. If the services you seek are related to your safety, we can provide you with assistance even if you are undocumented. We can also help you to adjust your immigration status, if that relief is available to you.

What assistance can we provide?

Assuming DVLAP is appropriate for you, we can provide you with advice and counsel regarding your civil legal remedies and rights. We can do advocacy with agencies and others on your behalf to help you get the relief you need.

We can also go to Court with you and act as your legal counsel in any civil legal matter related to the domestic violence, as our resources permit. However, we cannot represent you in any criminal matters. We can assist you with any civil legal problem which results from the domestic violence.

What are your legal rights?

Calling the Police for Help: If you call the police for help, they must come to investigate. The police must find enough evidence that a crime was committed before they can make an arrest. If the police have evidence of a violation, they are not required to make an arrest. In this situation, you have a right to sign a complaint, and the police should help you do this.

An example of a “violation” is when your partner threatens you with harm, or slaps or pushes you. Even if the police don’t arrest your partner, they should help you get medical care and to a safe place. Your local domestic violence program can help you if you get an unsatisfactory response from the police.

Orders of Protection: This is a court order that may require your abuser to stay away from you and/or your children (including removing him from your home), to stop abusing you, to surrender firearms, to have no contact with you, and to do other things which are necessary for your safety. The abuser may be arrested if he violates the Order of Protection. You can get an order of protection from criminal court, if charges have been filed against your abuser.

You can get an order of protection from Family Court if you have been in an intimate relationship with your abuser, your abuser is your current or former spouse, related to you by blood or marriage, or the other parent of your child, and has committed a family offense against you. In Family Court, you can get a temporary order of protection the same day you ask for it.

Custody and Visitation: You have a right to seek custody of, or visitation with, your natural or adopted children. You can also seek to modify a previously issued custody/visitation order if there is a change in circumstances, or complain about the violation of an order. You can file a petition for custody or visitation in Family Court. If warranted, you may get an immediate, temporary order of custody.

Support: A custodial parent has the right to get child support from the other parent. There is a formula for child support, based on income. You also have a right to seek spousal support from your spouse. There is no formula for spousal support—whether you get it and in what amount depends on several factors. You can also seek to modify a previously issued support order if there is a change in circumstances, or complain to the court about the violation of an order. You can file a petition for

You can get an order of protection from Family Court if you have been in an intimate relationship with your abuser, your abuser is your current or former spouse, related to you by blood or marriage, or the other parent of your child, and has committed a family offense against you. In Family Court, you can get a temporary order of protection the same day you ask for it.

Custody and Visitation: You have a right to seek custody of, or visitation with, your natural or adopted children. You can also seek to modify a previously issued custody/visitation order if there is a change in circumstances, or complain about the violation of an order. You can file a petition for custody or visitation in Family Court. If warranted, you may get an immediate, temporary order of custody.

Support: A custodial parent has the right to get child support from the other parent. There is a formula for child support, based on income. You also have a right to seek spousal support from your spouse. There is no formula for spousal support—whether you get it and in what amount depends on several factors. You can also seek to modify a previously issued support order if there is a change in circumstances, or complain to the court about the violation of an order. You can file a petition for child and/or spousal support in family court.

Divorce: You have the right to seek a divorce from your spouse. You can move out of the house without a divorce, especially if your spouse is abusive to you. You have the right to take your own property. In a divorce case, the judge will equitably distribute marital property. Marital property is property obtained during the marriage, including for example, a house, car, and pension benefits. In a divorce case, custody and support will also be decided. You can also get an order of protection in a divorce case.

Domestic violence/abuse is about one person having power and control over the other in an intimate relationship.

Getting Help

Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project

If you live in:

  • Columbia and Greene Counties: 518-462-6765 or 1-800-462-2922
  • Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties: 518-563-4022 or 1-800-722-7380
  • Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties: 518-842-9466 or 1-800-821-8347
  • St. Lawrence County and St. Regis Reservation: 315-386-4586 or 1-800-822-8283
  • Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties: 518-587-5188 or 1-800-870-8343

Domestic violence community service providers

There is a 24 hour domestic violence hot­line in every county. The telephone numbers are listed here. The local domestic violence service provider can help with emergency shelter, non- residential services such as advocacy, counseling, and support groups, referrals, and other supportive services.

Clinton and Essex Counties
STOP Domestic Violence:
518-563-6904 or 1-888-563-6904
Sexual Assault 24-hour hotline: Clinton County 1-877-212-2323 (toll-free)
Essex County 1-866-307-4086 (toll-free)

Columbia and Greene Counties
Columbia/Greene Domestic Violence Program:518-943-9211
The Reach Center Sexual Assault Hotline: 518-828-5556

Franklin County
STOP Domestic Violence: 1-888-563-6904
Sexual Assault 24-hour Hotline: 1-877-212-2323 (toll-free)

Fulton County
Family Counseling Center of Fulton County: 518-725-5300

Hamilton County
Hamilton County Domestic Violence Services: 518-648-6131 or 1-800-721-8534

Montgomery County
Domestic Violence Services of Catholic Charities of Fulton & Montgomery Counties: 518-842-3384

Saratoga County
Domestic Violence & Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County: 518-584-8188 Domestic Violence Advocacy Program of Mechanicville Area Community Services Center: 518-664-4008
Domestic Violence Advocacy Program of Mechanicville Area Community Services Center: 518-664-4008

St. Lawrence County
Renewal House: 315-379-9845
St. Regis Mohawk Reservation
Three Sisters Program: 1-855-3SISTER or 1-855-374-7837

Schoharie County
Catholic Charities of Schoharie County: 518-234-2231

Warren and Washington Counties
Catholic Charities Domestic Violence Project: 518-793-9496

From anywhere in New York State
there is a 24 hour domestic violence hotline: English 1-800-942-6906, TTY 1-800-818-0656 Spanish 1-800-942-6908, TTY 1-800-780-7660

 

Click here to view the Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project English brochure