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Family Law Project for Battered Women
Please click here to read the Boston Business Journal's article on the Family Law Project.
Click here to listen to the Director of Pro Bono Projects discuss the new Massachusetts Domestic Violence Prevention Law on Emerson College's WERS radio station.
Please sign up to be a part of the Family Law Clinic on Wednesdays from 9-1 at the Suffolk Probate and Family Court.
Mission & Profile
FLP has two primary missions:
first is to empower domestic violence victims by giving them a voice in
their abuse prevention order and family law cases. As such, we seek to
prevent further abuse, homelessness, loss of child custody, and to
decrease repeated court hearings. The FLP's second mission is to engage
lawyers in pro bono service and, thus, make them stakeholders on issues
involving low-income domestic violence victims.
Started by a
small group of WBA members in 1995, the Family Law Project (FLP)
continues to be the largest pro bono program at the Women’s Bar
Foundation. In 2012, the FLP continued to provide critical legal assistance to low-income domestic violence survivors. The FLP staff referred 124 full representation cases to our pool of volunteer attorneys, whom we recruit, train, and mentor. We responded to nearly 1,600 calls to the intake line. The FLP staff attorney provided brief service and advice (in-person and telephone meetings, reviewed pleadings, reviewed the file) to 236 clients. In addition, the FLP trained 175 attorneys in domestic violence, divorce, custody, and other issues related to family law. The FLP Intake Line is 617-973-6666 ext. 2216.
We first met Patricia in 2008 when she was referred to the FLP. She needed a lawyer to represent her at a hearing to extend a temporary restraining order. The woman we met in 2008 was terrified. She had been subjected to a steady stream of verbal and physical threats and intimidation by her spouse. She also was blind and deaf, as a result of a degenerative disease called Usher’s Syndrome.
Between 2008 and 2011, the FLP represented her at annual hearings to extend her 209A Abuse Prevention Order and, in 2010, the Court granted our request that the Order be made permanent. However, even though Patricia was safer with a restraining order, she also needed a divorce and alimony in order to transition into a new life, abuse-free. The FLP succeeded in securing a divorce for her which included the return of her property, a lump sum settlement, and alimony payments. Patricia now lives in modest housing and is the women she was always meant to be: lighthearted, witty, and independent. She is the subject of a documentary film and is not afraid to speak out about the abuse she suffered or to offer assistance to those in similar circumstances.
If you would like to volunteer to take a family law case, please contact Rachel Biscardi.
Family Law Project Highlights
Please join the WBF in congratulating its Summer, 2013 Volunteer Attorney Award Winner, Rachel Rothman
A GUIDE TO NAVIGATING THE LEGAL SYSTEM FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
2004: The FLP received the Public Service Award from the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations. We are very grateful for the continued support of the bench and bar.
2003: The Women’s Bar Foundation received a Supreme Judicial Court Adams Pro Bono Publico Award for distinguished service and outstanding commitment.
1995: The FLP won the R.O.S.E. Fund’s Distinguished Service Award.